Hapoel Jerusalem fell to Galatasaray 91-81 on Gameday 5 of the EuroCup and dropped to 1-4 in Group B. The Reds came out flat and went down by 16 points, 29-13 at the end of the first quarter, digging themselves a hole that they were never able to climb out of. Galatasaray ran wild on the Jerusalem defense and went 13/26 from beyond the arc as Dwight Hardy led the way for the visitors with 24 points while Damian Summers dropped 19 points in the win. Jerome Dyson scores 18 points as centers Alen Omic and Rich Howell each scored 14 points in the defeat.
1) Disaster Zone. What else can you say. Jerusalem lost a MUST win game to an 0-4 Galatasaray at home in front of close to 8,000 fans and most importantly owner Ori Allon who has been traveling with the team since the team’s last continental game last week in Italy. The Reds came out flat as a pancake and went down early and often as the Istanbul based team out-hustled, outworked and outplayed the hosts. Giving up 91 points at home can be considered a crime as Jerusalem showed no defensive presence whatsoever. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Gala went 13/26(!) from 3-point land hitting from the corners at will. Stratos Perperologou summed up the loss pretty accurately, “The same picture again. We started the game bad and we trailed the whole way. There was miscommunication on our end defensively, we gave up a lot of open shots and we weren’t aggressive enough.”
2) Austin Daye was at a loss for words as to what went on at the PAIS Arena after yet another defeat, their 3rd EuroCup loss at home. “Tough loss. You explained the whole situation right there. I don’t know what to say,” Daye began. “We are in the same situation after every game and it’s been tough on all of us, the staff, organization and players. It’s been tough losing like this. We start slow and it’s been hurting us. So many games it’s been the same thing and tough on everybody.” Jerusalem had to protect their home court and they failed. At the end of the day, as Daye says, it’s been tough on everyone from the staff, players and the organization as a whole. At this point, how many players can you let go and bring in when you need to win and win quickly. Is there still time for the Reds to save their continental campaign? Daye thinks that there is, “We got to win on the road. These road games are really testy but we’ve shown that we can win and we have to continue to do the same.” Perperologou echoed the sentiment, “We have to take one step at at a time. The next game is at home and we have to keep working and stay together.”
3) The question is, who will be coaching the team the rest of the way? Will Ori Allon stay the course and continue with Fotis Katsikaris or will there be a change on the sidelines? Allon was in the lockerroom after the game and I’m sure it wasn’t to hand out flowers to the players and coaching staff. What will the owner do? Allon certainly wants to reach the Euroleague and knows full well that beginning 1-4 just won’t cut it. The coach spoke after the game fairly openly about the situation the club is in, “Mistake after mistake. I don’t like the image and how we look. The first responsibility is the coach.” Those are pretty telling statements. And why is the team in the situation it currently finds itself in? Katsikaris explained, “We didn’t have the full preseason because of the national team commitments . I couldn’t do what I wanted and I couldn’t work. I didn’t have the time to do it, prepare defensively.” Katsikaris knew full well when he took the job as Jerusalem coach that the preseason was not going to be ideal and therefore had to prepare for that reality going into the season with the pressure of winning in EuroCup right off the bat. After the first couple of games he didn’t feel that pressure as he said to the media because the group stage is long, but now at 1-4, games are running out and running out quickly. What has he learnt so far about the way the team was built over the summer? “We made a roster that has some weakness and physicality is one our issues. Speed and strength. I didn’t expect it to be such a big issue.” I think that says it all.
What do you do now? Well as they say, you can’t fire all of the players and Coach Katsikaris has accepted responsibility. But what will Ori Allon do now? The owner is in a very, very, very tough spot, especially after letting go their best player in Curtis Jerrells a couple of weeks ago and giving the coach the vote of confidence. Unfortunately that hasn’t worked out the way he had hoped. We know that he doesn’t like letting go coaches midseason but there may be no choice now. The biggest problem Allon has is trying to get the team to make it into the next round of the EuroCup and that’s going to be one giant sized challenge to say the least.