Hapoel Jerusalem defeated Hapoel Holon 82-75 in Jerusalem as the visitor’s played their first game PG or Post-Glen Rice Jr. Tu Holloway (21p) and TJ Cline (12p) gave Holon the early 20-17 lead after ten minutes as Richard Howell (13) featured for the Reds with 7 points. Dan Shamir’s squad looked to pull away in the second quarter but a smart Oded Katash timeout with the score 33-31 in favor of Holon turned into a 37-35 advantage for Jerusalem at halftime thanks to veteran Yotam Halperin (10p) and Ronald Roberts (13p/8r).
The third quarter was a back and forth affair as Guy Pnini hit a pair of 3’s for Holon and Cline added one at the buzzer to set up a frantic final frame with the score 55-54 in favor of the host’s. However, Stratos Perperologou (11p) helped give Jerusalem a 67-60 lead as Bar Timor (11p/6a) and Roberts helped seal the deal and give the Reds the 7-point home win in front of over 7,000 fans.
1) There’s one name absent in the list of players above and that’s Tarence Kinsey. The guard had a fabulous game even when you put aside his 11 points. He was all over the court and was key on the defensive end just as we saw last year. As he gets back into shape after missing the first half of the season, we’re really beginning to see the player that Jerusalem so desperately needs for them to be a factor. Head Coach Oded Katash wholeheartedly agreed, “TK is so important and decisive. His practices and game play along with his experience is terrific. He’s a game changer when it comes to things that help us win. TK leads the way for us to be better and responsible.”
2) Hapoel Holon is in the PG era; Post-Glen Rice Jr. and it’s going to take some time for them to readjust. Is there talent on Holon? Certainly. Can they win the title? On a good day, yes. There’s no question that Dan Shamir’s team still has what to offer without Rice, but it’s going to take time and they do have almost a full round of games to make it work. TJ Cline spoke about the PG era following the game, “It’s going to take some time when you lose a player of Glen’s character. We had a good week of practice and they were competitive. There was a lot of energy and fire. We lost a lot with Glen, but if we can come together as a team we can compete for a championship. We have a very talented roster we know it a ‘Next man up mentality .’” I just finished a book called “Next Man Up” about the Baltimore Ravens and that’s definitely going to be the case for Shamir’s side, next man up.
3) It’s clear that Hapoel Jerusalem Head Coach Oded Katash is a players coach who offers plenty of guidance and encouragement to his team. Will he be the key to leading the Reds to potentially back to back titles? I believe that he’s been doing a fabulous job since coming on board and Rich Howell and Ronald Roberts are two of his biggest fans. Howell, “He’s a great coach and an even better person. The way he can get you motivated to play the game and teach you and puts you in the right spot you have to learn. It’s kind of hard not to learn from such a great coach.” Roberts: “Since Oded has been here, there’s been a togetherness about the team and I feel we have more chemistry. He’s good at holding guys accountable and he’s been having us focused in practice and over the last five games. He’s done a great job and when he’s in a room he commands a certain level of respect. I really appreciate that, I like playing for him and I like what he’s doing right now.”
Maccabi Tel Aviv is up next for Hapoel Jerusalem and the Reds must be chomping at the bit thinking about how they can exact revenge following the last time the two teams played each other in Tel Aviv. With the Yellow & Blue struggling, the Reds will look to take advantage of Neven Spahija’s squad’s play of late. Rich Howell talked about next week’s game, “We definitely owe them one and it’s time for us to string some wins together. We’ve got to get a couple of wins under our belt especially in the third round going into the playoffs so we have the right momentum.” Ronald Roberts also chimed in, “Maccabi is Maccabi and they have a history. But if you look at the last game we feel that we could have won and we are going to take that as we go into this game.”