Ironi Ness Ziona relied on several key contributors to mount a second-half comeback and defeat Arged BMSLAM Stal 82-74 in the FIBA Europe Cup final on Sunday in Tel Aviv.
Veteran head coach Brad Greenberg’s club became the third Israeli team to capture an international tournament trophy. The others? Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem.
Nimrod Levi, who came off the bench, paced Ironi Nessa Ziona with a game-high 21 points. Teammate Braian Angola finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, while Jerome Meyinsse added 14-point and 13 boards. Ex-NBA player Wayne Selden Jr., who earned the Final Four MVP award, contributed 13 points, six assists, and four rebounds, and Lior Carreira scored 10 points. Patrick Miller supplied nine points and nine assists.
A coach’s perspective
Greenberg praised his players for their determination and effort.
“The defensive effort and the grit and the connectedness — the five guys that were on the court throughout the fourth quarter — they helped each other, they communicated well, they fought,” Greenberg said of his Ironi Ness Ziona players, who held their Polish opponent to nine fourth-quarter points.
“It was really a special defensive quarter for us. I can’t say enough about that,” the former Philadelphia 76ers general manager said. “These guys have really turned this city on, this country on, in the last couple days, which is really neat, and have made history. So they have a lot to be proud of, and I’m real proud of them.”
Ironi Ness Ziona topped BC Parma 81-80 in the semifinals to reach the title match. Selden, who played for the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies and Chicago Bulls, nailed the game-winning 3-pointer with 9.5 seconds left in the semifinals. He signed a contract with Ironi Nessa Ziona last December.
“I’m blessed to be able to be the champion, to get the MVP — and this is all for him (Terrence Clarke) and the city back home,” Selden said after the final.
Speaking after the semifinals, Selden also dedicated the game to Clarke, an NBA prospect who died in a car crash last week.
“I lost someone who was like my little brother. It’s been hard,” Selden stated. “I knew I had to give my heart today, even if I missed a lot, and I definitely missed a lot. He was with me tonight, I feel blessed.”
A crowd of 4,000 witnessed the tourney finale at Menora Mivtachim Arena.
Strong start for Ironi Ness Ziona
The Israeli Basketball Super League squad built a 26-22 lead by the end of the first quarter. Greenberg’s team pulled ahead 42-30 in the 19th minute.
After some quick scoring by its foe, Ironi Ness Ziona led 42-35 at halftime.
Arged BMSLAM Stal, a Polish club, used a 21-4 spurt in the second half to pull ahead 64-55.
Entering the final quarter, Ironi Ness Ziona trailed 65-59.
Keys to victory for Ironi Ness Ziona
Greenberg’s team had a 14-1 spurt bridging the third quarters.
As a result, Ironi Ness Ziona seized moment at the opportune time. Effective defense also helped seal the win down the stretch. Consider: the champs allowed 30 points in the third quarter. The scoreboard showed they yielded just the nine aforementioned points in the final stanza.
“Just getting stops down the stretch was great,” Selden said in a post-game news conference.
Jakub Garbacz paced the tournament runner-up team with 19 points. Teammates George Kell and Denzel Andersson chipped in with 12 points apiece. Arged BMSLAM Stal shot 32.4 percent from the floor.
Did you know?
The FIBA Europe Cup was first held in 2016.