Hapoel Jerusalem defeated Lietkabelis Panevezys 93-81 on Gameday 6 of EuroCup action to keep their chances alive to advance to the second round of the competition. Newcomer Kalin Lucas (16 points) sparked two big second half 11-0 runs by the Reds as he led his new team to the win. Jerome Dyson dropped 19 points, Rich Howell scored 18, Stratos Perperologou added 14 points while Alen Omic chipped in with a 10 point and 10 rebound double-double in the victory. Gary Talton and ex-Maccabi forward Simas Jasaitis scored 14 points a piece for the visiting Lietkabelis.
1) Hello Kalin Lucas and welcome to Jerusalem. The guard sliced and diced (sorry Jerome for using your twitter name) Lietkabelis up in the second half scoring 12 of his 16 points over the final two frames while also playing lockdown defense. Lucas made his debut last week against Galatasaray when he clocked in with just 3 minutes in his first game, but this week was a totally different story. The Reds new #27 came off the bench and provided Hapoel with a huge boost as he explained to me following the game, “I wanted to be aggressive and try to give my team whatever I could give them. But I think the key was our defense. We huddled up in the 3rd quarter and said that we have to get stops. If we don’t get stops, we aren’t going to win this game.” Lucas also spoke about finally playing, “It feels good to be part of the team as I’ve only been practicing and not playing in the games. I wanted to come out and play well and my teammates helped me out throughout practice and in the game.” Lastly, I asked the Michigan State product if he would be registered for the Israeli League and play this coming Sunday against Bnei Herzliya, “I’m not sure, but I think all my paperwork is ready, so hopefully I will be playing.” I bet you that most Jerusalem fans also hope that he’ll be playing.
2) Lucas’s teammates had plenty of praise for his effort on the court in the must win contest. Stratos Perperologou. “He had a great game and really helped us. He’s a good point guard, kept the team calm and hit a lot big shots that gave us confidence.” Alen Omic who had a marvelous second half for Hapoel also spoke highly of the new point guard, “Everyone knew that we needed a point guard and he played very good. He came here to play and to win. He’s a good player and we all have to keep going, not just Lucas but all 12 players.” Finally, potentially the biggest beneficiary of Lucas is Jerome Dyson as he explained, “For me personally I was able to give up the ball and relax and get back into the game. He hit big shots and played defense which is exactly what we needed.”
3) Defense is what won this game for Jerusalem as they held Lietkabelis at bay in the second half and created points off of turnovers especially when they managed two 11-0 runs. Add to that domination on the boards over the final 20 minutes and you get a hard earned W. Perperologou discused the keys to victory through his eyes while also remaining realistic, “We stuck together and when we were down by ten we knew that we had to give everything that we had. It was very good for us to get the win and very important for us. We didn’t stop fighting and we fought until the end. Everyone stepped up today, but we didn’t do anything, we just survived and we have to keep going.” Dyson also talked about the team giving berthing they have, “We battled and that’s what made me happy the most. Everyone gave everything they had and everyone contributed. We have a very talented group of guys and we are able to rattle off 4-5 wins.”
Jerusalem Head Coach Mody Maor praised his players for the effort especially after coming back on the second half, “Our guys have a lot of character, and they showed it. They played with guts and heart, some of them bounced back from a bad first half, and I’m very proud of them. Everything is possible, one game at a time.” Will this game be a stepping stone to help Jerusalem make it into the second round? Possibly, as the players gave everything they had to make sure that they could walk away with the win. With a 3 week break coming up from EuroCup play, it will give Maor a chance to keep working on the team and get ready for the challenges ahead.