Hapoel Jerusalem defeated Rasta Vechta 83-74 at the Rasta Dome in Germany as the Reds broke a string of 3 road losses in a row. Oded Katash’s squad used a strong second quarter and a perfect night from the field by Tashwn Thomas to record the victory. Thomas ended the night going 10/10 good for 23 points to go along with 6 rebounds, John Holland who made his Jerusalem European debut scored 17 points while James Feldeine notched 13 points in the win. Jordan Davis with 19 points and Steve Vasturia with 16 points led Rasta in the loss.
Steve Vasturia opened the game up well for Rasta Vechta with 8 points as the hosts grabbed an 18-17 lead after the first quarter. Tashawn Thomas and James Feldeine powered the Reds in the second quarter as Hapoel Jerusalem topped off a 17-4 run with a triple by Tamir Blatt midway through the frame. John Holland hit a turn-around jump shot, Feldeine drilled home a 3-pointer while Thomas found the bottom of the basket to take a 45-29 advantage after twenty minutes.
Vasturia, Max Di Leo and Trevis Simpson chipped away at the Jerusalem lead in the third quarter as the hosts pulled to within 54-45 with 4:48 remaining in the frame. A pair of Jordan Davis triples helped Rasta Vechta get back into the game as they went into fourth quarter down 7-points 63-56.
Holland began the fourth frame with a triple, but Vasturia kept scoring for Rasta Vechta as the Reds held a 74-66 advantage midway through the period. But key free throws by Feldiene, Thomas and Holland quelled any thought of a comeback as Jerusalem took the 83-74 victory.
1) Tashawn Thomas was magnificent against Rasta with an almost perfect evening (He went 2/3 from the FT line) and showed what he can do in dominant fashion against a team that lacks size inside. Thomas was absolutely unstoppable and will most certainly be up for MVP honors for this Champions League round of games. Averaging 14.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists, Thomas also sports a 20.8 efficiency rating which is third best in the competition right behind Chris Wright and Latavious Williams who has since left Holon for Hapoel Tel Aviv, now that is quite impressive. Thomas is continuing to build on last season’s successes in continental play and will be a key contributor for Jerusalem as they head down the stretch in regular season play. The big man spoke about his team’s performance following the game, “I feel like we played well like a team and it was needed coming into a tough road game like this. I’m proud we all stuck together and got the W.”
2) John Holland has so far proved to be a wonderful addition to Hapoel Jerusalem. Although, Holland has only played two games for the Reds, it seems that he has seamlessly fit in replacing Trent Lockett who is back in the United States dealing with a personal issue. Oded Katash couldn’t be happier as to how Holland has easily integrated into the team, “This was his second game with us and first in Europe and we already needed him to play some serious minutes. It just shows you how much we missed Trent Lockett and how badly we needed a player at this position. I am very pleased with how fast he has acclimated with us.” Thomas also commented on the new addition, “He is fitting right in and that’s how we kind of expected it. Anytime a guy can come in and produce the way he is that’s a good thing. We are definitely happy.” Tamir Blatt also chimed in, “John Holland is a great guy first and foremost who is here to work every day at practice. He did a fabulous job today and I’m really happy that he is with us.” Finally, how does Holland feel with his new teammates? “I feel good but that’s a credit to all of my teammates as I’ve only been here for a few days. They have embraced me and walked through everything on the court. I really appreciate them for making it an easy transition.”
3) Rasta Vechta is a solid team under coach Pedro Calles as they continue to improve year to year. The German squad is taking a stab at continental completion this season and sitting at 5-5 in fourth place and are doing a more than admirable job. With a great fan base, there is no question to think that Rasta won’t continue their upward climb. Jerusalem coach Oded Katash praised his opponent, “They are a very good team that plays at a very high pace which allows them to create turnovers from their opponents. Other than the first quarter we did a good job with the turnovers and I’m really proud of how the guys played.”
This was an important win for Jerusalem any which way you want to slice it. After three road losses in Champions League action they needed desperately to get back in the win column and that exactly what they did. A loss to Rasta would have been close to disastrous for the Reds as their record would have dropped to 6-4 which would have been the same as their rival. Instead they gave themselves some breathing room with a 7-3 record which for the time being puts them into first place until AEK plays on Wednesday night. Coach Katash spoke about the win, “This was a tough but very good game for us. I believe that other than a few minutes in the second half we really wanted the win and made some huge baskets. For some the shots weren’t the strong points of some players but we stuck to the game plan with a short roster a good job to slow them down a bit.” Holland also talked about the importance of the victory, “It was a good game and there’s no easy games in the Champions League especially on the road. We showed a lot of heart and a game that we can build on. Hopefully we can continue towards our goals. They played hard and disciplined basketball. We showed a lot by coming in here and getting the win.” While Blatt was straight and to the point with his comments, “This was a very, very important win for us and I think we did a great job defensively which was the key for us.”