Monday, January 14, 2008
Yediot Haifa's Tal Avriel has come out with his first half review. Below is a translation of Tal's article:
Adi Pereg once again won the game on the last second. This time at home against Hod-HaSharon. Tal Avriel ends the first half and gives grades.
This is how you finish a half. A winning shot in the last second that gives Haifa the win, a winning record of 7:6 and hope for a better second half.
Maccabi Hod-HaSharon with Papy Torgeman and Guy Kantor came to Haifa to try to end Haifa's resurgence. With 13 seconds left in regulation the situation was almost hopeless, after Hod-HaSharon scored a three pointer which gave them the lead. Hod-HaSharon got specific instructions to foul after five seconds. Hod-HaSharon had another foul to give and everyone thought they would commit it with the game clock running down. However, for some reason Hod-HaSharon didn’t commit that foul. Adi Pereg, who didn’t have his best game, took the game in his hands by dribbling for 6 seconds and from an almost impossible angle scored the winning shot 72:71.
Avi Ashkenazi said, "The difference in our team is that even if we are not so good like we were today, we still show our nature and character and win games that in the beginning of the year we wouldn’t."
Uri Kukia had 10 points and 13 rebounds, and Kobi Isaac had 14 points and 7 rebounds were both the highlights of Haifa. Mike McKinney was again mediocre with 18 points and no 3-point shots. Deon Thomas as before did not have his best statistics.
The second league goes on a "vacation" for two weeks. Before the critical game against Netanya and Haifa’s return to Romema, let’s review each and every player who has contributed this half.
Mike McKinney- on one hand he has the best statistics on the team, on the other hand, he is controversial with talks to replace him every Monday and Thursday. The coach Ashkenazi would be happy to replace him however, all the professional staff is supporting him. He is the "man" of the owner Jeff Rosen who believes in him without any doubt is ready to give up this season only for McKinney to receive his confidence and approval. A foreigner who doesn’t rise above the other players, who doesn’t lead and influence, a foreigner who doesn’t pass nor defend, who cannot throw from afar we cannot expect more from Haifa. Average so far: in 32 minutes, 20.4 pts, 5.7 rebounds, 1 assist, 20% to 3-points, and 70% from the free throw line. First half grade - 5.5.
Adi Pereg- The number one player on Maccabi Heat Haifa in the first half. He is still not the same Pereg who promoted a few teams to the first league in the past, but we certainly saw a few excellent games from him (and a few weak ones). His outside game and 3-point shooting suffered this half from a hurt hand outside however, he made up for it with great penetrations and spreading the ball around with his assists. 32.5 minutes with 15 pts', 4.3 assists, 3.1 rebounds. First half grade – 6.5.
Uri Kukia – Haifa’s strong play began with his addition. It is possible the delay of his addition cost the team a game or two. A large portion of his contribution doesn’t reflect in the statistics, because he relieves “the old” Deon Thomas. Kukia has made strong contributions in the last four consecutive wins, playing 28.5 minutes, scoring 8 points, 9.4 rebounds (8th in the league, and the second Israeli), 2.4 steals and 1.8 assists. His percentage from the free throw line needs major improvement (33%). First round grade – 6.5.
Deon Thomas- He is one of the major reasons for the fuss around the team and has been seen has quite a disappointment. Thomas in his current state is just another player in the league, who is not worth more than 30 thousand dollars at best. Thomas receives twice that amount and more which allowed Haifa to save money on the foreigner. Nevertheless, there has been improvement in Deon's play (since Kukia's addition). Thomas has averaged 25 minutes, 11 points, 6.8 rebounds and there are other aspects on the court which we cannot see in the statistics. First half grade – 5.
Tomer Huli – The fast and not so gifted point guard came to Haifa as a replacement for Uri Grinwald. Uri's retirement and the disappointing ability of Oren Ben-Hemo has made Tomer a key player. Whoever prefers fighting and determination over ability will love him, but Maccabi Heat lacks talent now and Tomer Huli is not the man to supply it. He is not the one who can supply the brilliant moves when the offensive is slacking. 25 minutes, 8.9 points, 3.8 assists, 2.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals. First half grade – 6.
Oren Ben-Hemo- If not for Thomas and Marko, he was a candidate for the disappointment of the half. Aside from a few good games, he didn’t play up to his ability and he forgot about his wonderful first step. 24 minutes, 9 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists. First half grade – 5.5.
Kobi Isaac- It was not Isaac’s best half. He was one of the best players in the league last season for Binyamina but has not been able to put up the same numbers this season. His confidence is hurt and he keeps fouling. In the games when has been good, the team has won. Maccabi Haifa Heat will need him in much better shape in the second half. 24 minutes, 10.5 points, 5.4 rebounds. First half grade- 5.5.
Uriel Marko- One of the most promising players of the summer came out to be the ultimate disappointer. Since the addition of Kukia he has been left out of the squad. In the past he has been a great athlete who finished fast breaks with outstanding dunks. Marko who came to Haifa for a nice payment has not lived up to his potential. He has spent a few years on the bench in the first league and this could be a reason for his sloppy play. Marko has played only nine games averaging 21 minutes, 5 points, 2.8 rebounds. First half grade – 4.
Maor Snir – He is the only player under 22 who actually received playing time. He has played in 11 games averaging 10 minutes and has given Ashkenazi another player for the rotation. 4.3 points, rebounds with nice field goal percentage, and all in 120 minutes. First half grade – 6.
Tamir Arieli- Still not really good, but this kid is 17 and plays an average of 5 minutes and not only in garbage time. We can say a few good words about him. Whoever has seen this kid in the teen league and on the Israeli team knows that he has a lot of potential.
Avi Ashkenazi – The truth is we spared him this half. Ashkenazi deserves a review on him because of the failures until now. The additions of Ben-Hemo and Marko have not proven themselves. It was expected that Ashkenazi would do his homework and check the state of Marko before signing him. It is possible Deon Thomas was thrown upon him, but a coach with his record should state that the professional decisions are his and his only. As for McKinney, if Ashkenazi would have persisted from the beginning to have a more experienced foreigner it is likely McKinney wouldn’t have been signed in the first place. We praise Ashkenazi for managing to get out of the deep mud during beginning of the season. The last few victories show he still has got a lot to sell. First half grade – 5.
Jeff Rosen – We cannot complain about the man responsible for renewing the basketball team in Haifa. He gives the basketball team another few columns in the tabloids. Rosen gave the team a budget that is compelling for a promotion to the first league. The team has been rising however; the reality of getting promoted has become more difficult. Some of the players have been a disappointment and it took the team a long time to come together. What is most likeable in the new owner is his "American" mentality. On one hand, it is annoying (see McKinney) but on the other hand it doesn’t let him give up. He doesn’t see not being promoted to the first league as a major disaster as originally intended. At least from his statements he will stay here for a long time.