How they got to the Final 8: Hapoel Unet-Credit Holon
HOLON (Israel) - Hapoel Unet-Credit Holon are gearing up for the first BCL Quarter-Finals appearance in club history and they are going up against the reigning champions Hereda San Pablo Burgos in the fourth Final 8 fixture, on May 6. Here's a look at what helped the Israeli team get here.
What is special about Hapoel Unet-Credit Holon?
- Holon are the de facto over-achievers of this Final 8 if we rate teams according to their average point differential, as theirs is only 1.1 point per game (they score 79.3 points and give up 78.2 points per game, on average). The Israeli team also have the narrowest difference in terms of rating, as their offensive rating of 112.2 points per 100 possessions is only marginally larger than their defensive rating of 112.1 points per 100 possessions.
- The capacity to make the most of whatever little thing gives them the slightest edge over the opponent and exploit it to the maximum is possibly Holon's biggest virtue this season. They won eight games en route to the Final 8 and only three of those were by a double-digit margin. They won the remaining five games by an average margin of 3 points, some by the skin of their teeth.
- Holon are third in the league in made three-pointers with 10.8 per game (behind Nizhny and Tenerife, who share top spot with 11.3 per contest) but because they play at fewer possessions than either of those teams, these three-pointers represent a bigger proportion of their total points and are more important for their offense. Holon, which shoot 36.2 percent from beyond the arc, have a quite solid effective field goal percentage (eFG%) of 54.2 percent.
- If there is a secret shortcut to the free-throw line, Holon have the map of the road and hold the key to the gate because they take more frequent trips to the stripe than any other team in the Final 8. The Israeli team average 21.8 free-throw attempts per game and convert 16.8 of those on average, which means they are shooting 75.5 percent of their shots from the line. Holon were second in the league this season both in attempted and in made free-throws.
- Holon play at their own pace, often trying to create open looks from three-point land or draw a foul and go to the line, but one thing they don't look to do is run the floor. One could say they are almost indifferent to the transition game - if a transition opportunity presents itself fine, if not well they are not going to change their style of play to chase it. That means that they score 5.8 fast-break points per game, which is not only the fewest among Final 8 teams but also the fewest among all teams that made it to the Play-Offs.
- The Israeli team have two players - in C.J. Harris and Isaiah Miles - who average over 14 points per game and an identical efficiency rating of 15.7 per game and have two more players, Chris Johnson and Tyrus McGee, who also average double digits in scoring and efficiency. What these four Holon leaders have in common is that they can all pull up from any distance and they regularly do just that, combining for 19.8 tree-point attempts per game between them.
The 2020-21 Hapoel Unet-Credit Holon highlights
Holon started off on a 1-2 record but went on to win their next three games and finished tied with AEK at 4-2 in the Group C standings. They took first place, thanks to their head-to-head advantage over the Greek team. The decisive win was their 89-71 victory at Cholet on the final gameday, with the 18-point margin being Holon's largest this season.
Holon clinched first place in Group I on a 4-2 record with the most crucial win coming on gameday 5, against Happy Casa Brindisi. Holon trailed the Italian side by as many as 11 points, but came back, forced overtime and edged out Brindisi 81-79 in the extra period, behind 24 points from C.J. Harris and 15 points, 7 rebounds from Chris Johnson.
The last shot
Every team has a 'unique' style of play but Holon's is instantly recognizable and it doesn't resemble that of any other team in the BCL. Part of that is dictated by the fact they have by far the lowest average height in the Final 8 and their tallest player (among the ones who play considerable minutes) is Belgian veteran Maxime De Zeeuw, who stands at 2.04m (6ft 8in). That shapes the character of the team, but not in a way that limits them, on the contrary.
Holon manage to guard the opponent's big guys efficiently thanks to their elaborate defensive rotations, and on offense they can play five-men-out all day long. They do the most (and then some) with what they have, they maximize their resources and they stay faithful to their principles, no matter what. That is why they're fun to watch, and they're sure to stay in contention until the very last second.