In an overtime thriller with dramatic swings Garden Rigs came through with a stunning victory to claim the championship title in the Red and Doctor Murray’s Israel Basketball League.
Fans stormed the court at the final buzzer, hoisting the Garden Rigs heroes onto their shoulders and the Red Auerbach Championship Trophy into the air, and setting off late-night celebrations among the faithful.
Garden Rigs’ worthy adversaries were Ashreinu. Both teams put on a defensive clinic, never surrendering an easy bucket.
Garden Rigs was able to shut down Ashreinu’s normally deadly outside shooting while also preventing its patented athletic cuts to the hoop. Ashreinu, determined to expend no less effort, turned up the defensive pressure, trading steals and huge defensive stops.
Garden Rigs led by a single point at the half, and the second act was more of the same, as neither team was able to go on a run to put the game away.
At the one-minute mark, Ashreinu took a two-point lead, but Garden Rigs answered to tie. With time running out and Ashreinu looking for a buzzer-beater, Garden Rigs came up with their biggest defensive stand of the night, leaving the score deadlocked at the end of regulation.
On the line in overtime
As the championship game entered overtime, players’ and fans’ intensity reached a fever pitch, and both teams defenses’ looked like they might simply refuse to allow a point. But Duvi Grumet finally found a small sliver of daylight, knocking down a 3-pointer and bringing down the house to take the lead, 31-28.
Ashreinu would convert on foul shots to cut the lead to one, but was then forced to send Garden Rigs to line. It was Grumet shooting again, this time calmly sinking both free throws. Ashreinu’s last-gasp long-range attempt to tie fell short, and Garden Rigs were the 2015 Champs, winning with score 33-30.
Yehoshua Zirman and Bryan Itkowitz notched 10 points each for Garden Rigs, while Ashreinu’s attack was led by Justin Hod (9) and Bennett Scwartz (8).
In the Tier 2 AFI Cup finals, top-seeded Vince Peanuts faced the challenger CCJ in the championship game.
CCJ came out strong and was dominant on the boards, recording 15 team offensive rebounds. David Azancot and Mordy Reisman led the methodical CCJ attack, as the team resisted temptation and did not attempt a single 3-pointer for the first three quarters of the game. The strategy seemed to work, as CCJ built an 8-point halftime lead, and looked poised to put the game out of reach.
A furious Vince Peanuts rally threatened the lead late, but CCJ then pulled out an unexpected trump card — 4-for-7 shooting down the stretch, from behind the arc.
The expert stealth marksmanship hurtled CCJ to a 44-28 final margin. Azancot tallied 5 offensive rebounds and 15 points and was named MVP, and the entire team was presented with the AFI Cup.