In a dramatic and emotional championship game, the Lobos reclaimed the Red Auerbach Trophy with a last-second victory over the OJ Jackals in the IBL title game.
The Lobos trailed for much of the game, but turned the tide in the second half, and survived three potential game-tying or game-winning attempts in the final minute of play. The 51-48 victory over the OJ Jackals gave Lobos their second title in four years, and sent raucous fans storming the court in celebration.
The Lobos entered the game with an undefeated record and three returning starters from their '08 championship campaign. The OJ Jackals, meanwhile, were hitting their stride at just the right time, with huge margins of victory based on great shooting, tenacious defense, and a transition game geared toward fast-break buckets.
Lobos veteran point guard Tzvi Mandel controlled the pace early on, but early foul trouble for the Lobos provided the Jackals the opportunity to seize the reigns, and OJ entered the intermission with a four-point lead.
The game remained close throughout the second half, as tough inside play by Moshe Klien, Zevi Binder, and defensive specialist Asher Ingber, gave Lobos the advantage in the set offense, while OJ continued to break at every opportunity.
Deep in the second half, and with the teams neck and neck, Lobos veterans Aryeh Rudman and Yitz Wieder seemed to shift into another gear. Rudman hit a three to quiet the partisan OJ crowd, and used heads-up ball movement to create several open shots for teammates, including two more treys by Wieder and Yitzy Stern, giving the Lobos a seven point lead with three minutes to play.
Down but not out, the Jackals responded with a defensive press, going on a 6-0 run, and when they regained possession with 20 seconds left and down by just one point, the crowd was sent into near delirium.
But Mandel summoned the ghosts of John Havlicek and Larry Bird, stealing the ball with the clock running down, and finding Wieder, who extended the lead to three. A final desperation half-court heave couldn't find the hoop, setting off the Lobos' celebrations.
Yitz Wieder led Lobos scorers with 17 points, including clutch shooting down the stretch. Aryeh Rudman managed to squeeze in 14 points between his plentiful assists, and several game-saving stops on the defensive end. Tzvi Mandel and Yehuda Gutkin ran the point, with Mandel scoring 10.
For OJ, Gavriel Valensky led the scoring with a 17 points, Zack Hatten had 13, Mike Gindia notched 10, and David Shrage and Benny Silver added 4 apiece.
In the Tier-2 AFI Cup, the Entrecote Kings came storming back from a 12-point second-half deficit, defeating the Lev Lions 58-52 to earn the trophy.
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