The veteran guard came within 2 of a career-high by scoring 31 points.
Munford’s brilliant night led Hapoel over Joventut
After losing back-to-back games, Hapoel Shlomo Tel Aviv needed a response on Wednesday night against Joventut Badalona and that came through the hands of an extraordinary Xavier Munford. In his team’s 103-99 win at Aleksandar Nikolic Hall in Belgrade, the Hapoel guard scored 31 points to come within just 2 from his career-high mark after going 5-for-7 (71.4%) from inside the arc, 6-for-7 (85.7%) from downtown and 3-for-4 (75.0%) from the free-throw line. He also registered 5 assists, 2 steals and 3 drawn fouls for a career-high PIR of 35.
Munford hit the ground running and went 4-for-4 from the field to register 10 points in the first 10 minutes. Then, he drilled 3 triples in the second quarter and finished the third one with 27 points – which already was his finest mark this season.
“Badalona is a good team, so I want to give a hats-off to them,” Munford said after the game. “But this was a must-win [game] for us and we came with that type of mentality tonight.”
Munford went on to score just 4 points in the last quarter, but it was his crucial basket with 0:31 left on the clock that made it 101-95 after a heroic Joventut comeback attempt and sealed the victory for the hosts. The 31-year-old guard scored just 1 point in Hapoel’s 98-89 loss away at Prometey Slobozhanske last week. He struggled to find his range, having gone 0-for-6 from the field, with his only point coming from the free-throw line. But on Wednesday night, Munford rediscovered his form and led Hapoel to victory.
“We lost two games and we don’t really sit well with losing,” he added. “So, everybody, from the coaching staff to the players, we had to come with a different mindset and come out and play our type of game because the last couple of games we felt like we got away from our style of play. So, we came out tough tonight and it worked for us.”
This one was a much-needed victory for Hapoel and head coach Danny Franco’s men will look to build on it next week, when they host a Besiktas Emlakjet Istanbul side which is coming from a huge 63-68 win away at Paris Basketball on Tuesday night.