In a hotly contested battle, Hawke&Co. won the title game of the Red & Doctor Murray's Israel Basketball League over defending champs Lobos. Hawke&Co. completed a perfect season, taking home the Red Auerbach Championship Trophy in an emotional final 50-42.
The protagonists had met once before, in a game that Hawke&Co. won by just a point at the buzzer in overtime - and this time around, the game was at least as intense.
Hawke&Co. were true to their reputation as the league's best shooters, jumping out of the gate to an early eight-point lead, and using tenacious defense to make Lobos work for every basket. Star point guard Yisrael Feld led the Hawke attack, slashing inside and commanding help whenever he drove the lane.
The opportunities thus created for his teammates quickly multiplied; in addition to his game-high 25 points, Feld's penetration set the table for many Hawke&Co. layups, and freed up teammates to crash the offensive boards for rebounds and put-backs.
Feld's teammates did not disappoint, as Shelby Rosenberg opportunistically scored eight points, and Mason Wedgle, Yehuda Heller and Jared Stein notched up four apiece. After Lobos caught up, Dovi Grosser hit two straight treys to give back Hawke&Co. the lead early in the second half.
Jason Allen and Rosenberg set the frenetic defensive pace, with Allen sabotaging plays at every opportunity and Rosenberg making his presence keenly felt with five blocks. With under five minutes remaining, Hawke&Co. extended its lead to 11, but the defending champs rallied one last time.
Thanks to lights-out shooting by Yehuda Gutkin, the post-up work of Zevi Binder and big plays by Moshe Klein, Aryeh Rudman and Nissi Merenstein, Lobos moved within three points, with just two minutes to play.
However, once Hawke&Co. had made it a two-possession game again, Lobos faced a virtually insoluble dilemma: allow Feld to calmly pick his spots while milking much of the precious remaining time, or guard him tightly and risk getting burned by his lightning first step to the hoop. Without the luxury of time, Lobos had to gamble on pressuring Feld, and he answered with a dizzying barrage of crossover dribbles and penetrating drives to lock down the win.
With the waning seconds ticking down on the 50-42 final tally, Hawke&Co. fans began the celebrations. The two classy teams exchanged handshakes and embraces, well-earned over a span of over two full, tightly-contested games.
Feld was named the consensus championship game MVP.
In the Tier-2 "AFI Cup" Championship, Bromptons used phenomenal outside shooting, led by Adi Isaacs, and exemplary coaching to pull away from a talented TK Associates-LA Ballers squad by a core of 61-48 and take home the trophy.
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