Ramla has arrived in the finals, using that trademark defense that carried them so far in Europe, with somewhat of a statement win, 86-65. Raanana Hertzeliya didn't make a field goal in the final 13 minutes of the game, after they tied the score at 56 there was only one team left on the court.
Game 3 - On Monday.
Ramla 86 - Raanana Hertzeliya 65
Ramla knew they had to win this game, and any relation between the players in white today to the team which lost on Monday is strictly coincidental. The guards hit from everywhere, Jackie Johnson came up huge off the bench and those 86 points tell the story. For the first 3 quarters Raanana Hertzeliya was able to hang around, Ornit Shwartz's 3 tied the score at 56 for the first time in a long time, with 3 minutes left in the 3rd. The next time Ramla allowed a field goal was with 15 seconds on the clock and the scoreboard showing 86-63. 24 was the biggest lead for Ramla, Raanana Hertzeliya never led.
Laine Selwyn silenced her critics of late with a great game of 17 points and 6 assists. Her average in the playoffs has been 7.3 until tonight, and she hasn’t reached 17 in the Israeli league since returning from the break. "I'm back", she said with a smile though the fact her team has been doing well is all that really matters. "I feel like it's a different game when they come here, I feel like we need to protect our home court. We had great fan support and everyone showed up, we had five people in double figures, they're a very aggressive team and today we fought back", said Selwyn. Ramla did a great job on Tanisha Wright, limiting her to 7 shot attempts. "We know she's the main key of their team just like Jia was for Ramat Hasharon, if we stop her it makes the game a lot tougher for everyone else", said Selwyn. "She's a great player, she does it all, that was our goal to try and stop her so I tried my best today", said Selwyn.
Selwyn Vs. Wright (Motti Klinger)
"After we lost game 1 I said we need to play our game better and if we do that and lose, then its time to make changes" said Eli Rabi. "I'm glad we won with our way, it gives hope for the rest of the series. We were very focused on defense today and we played better through out the game, we took better advantage of it in the 2nd half" said Rabi.
One of the main reasons Ramla won tonight was Jackie Johnson's team high 18 points. "You know how many foreigners there are that are willing to sacrifice themselves for their team like Jackie? There aren't any, I take my hat off to her. With everything she's going through, seeing her sacrifice like this makes everyone else that much more committed", he said. Johnson herself was a lot more modest. "I'm just trying to be there for my team, I guess it was my day" she said about her hot start. "The ball felt good in my hand, my knee felt good, that's all you can ask for".
"We didn’t show up in the 4th, and even before we made so many mistakes to end the 3rd. After you chase a team all game and erase a 9-10 point lead, the way the 3rd ended was demoralizing and we didn't recover", said Shiki Falach. He was probably talking about how Neda Djuric's early 3-point attempt became a full court pass from Shay Doron to Selwyn for an easy layup at the buzzer, 62-57. "I hope we'll be ready to play 4 quarters on Monday and not just 3. Ramla was more determined and more aggressive today and we didn't have enough players involved", said Falach.
Abiola Wabara started out great and scored 11 out of her team's first 13 points. Other than her though not much was going for Raanana Hertzeliya, Selwyn and Baker were doing a good job denying the ball from Wright. Offensively Doron was quick to erase any memory of her terrible game 1 as she made her first 3 shots to make it 8-2 Ramla. Wabara helped cut the lead to 9-10 but Johnson came in for Abramzon and her 3 fouls and couldn't miss. Wabara picked up her 2nd foul and watched Johnson help Ramla take a 23-18 lead after 1.
Ramla's defense continued to set the tone in the 2nd, Selwyn in transition made it a 7-point lead. Chen Nusel and Katia Levitzky with back to back threes cut the lead to 1 and Wright even got her first basket but Johnson with a 3 and Snow from the line pushed it back to 9 again. Raanana Hertzeliya looked bad on offense with too many turnovers, Baker drove in for another layup and made it 38-28. Wright with 5 points and a few Ramla turnovers prevented the lead from getting any larger, 42-35 at the half.
Raanana Hertzeliya started the quarter with a stop and a basket inside for Mistie Williams, the two things they lacked the most in the first half. Wright with a 3 and Williams off an offensive board officially made it a game, just 42-45. Shwartz hit her first 3 of the game but Baker answered right back, a weird flagrant foul on Wright resulted in two free throws for Selwyn and a drive for Doron, 56-47 with 5:20 to go. A very hard foul by Johnson on Williams didn't generate a flagrant call on the other end, but Williams' free throw and Wabara's 3-point play off the offensive board cut it back to 51-56. Raanana Hertzeliya's defense continued to force turnovers, and Shwartz's 3 tied the game at 56. Ramla ended the quarter on 6-1 run, after Djuric took an early 3 instead of waiting for the last shot and sent Selwyn racing for an easy 2, 62-57. Raanana Hertzeliya could only feel bad about good shots rolling out, and about their inability to go inside and draw Snow's 4th foul.
Selwyn with a basket, a steal and a 3 gave Ramla their biggest lead yet at 69-57 as Raanana Hertzeliya was still stuck. Djuric with another odd turnover led to Johnson's basket on the other side, and Raanana Hertzeliya never got their flow going. Things got a little heated as Selwyn confronted Williams and picked up her 4th, as did Snow, but Raanana Hertzeliya just watched the lead grow. Every time they got near the rim Ramla was there to foul and make them earn it from the line.
Jackie Johnson 18 pts
Laine Selwyn 17 pts, 6 ast
Shay Doron 16 pts
Sherill Baker 15 pts
Michelle Snow 10 pts, 6 rebs
For Raanana Hertzeliya:
Abiola Wabara 19 pt
Tanisha Wright 14 pts
Mistie Williams 11 pts
Ornit Shwartz 7 pts
Katia Levitzky 5 pts
Photo: Motti Klinger