J’Covan Brown – “We all have to put the team first” Jerusalem Wins Winner Cup; defeats Maccabi Tel Aviv 84-83

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The Sports Rabbi 3-Pointers
1) There’s no question that Hapoel Jerusalem began their 2019/20 campaign on the right foot by winning the preseason tourney and they will be able to take the momentum from the victory into the regular season. But they are also very aware that’s it’s just a preseason competition and the real tests will be the Champions League and the Winner League which opens up next week. “We’ll celebrate tonight and then we’ll forget about it tomorrow,” explained James Feldeine. “It’s a long season and long journey, we’re playing in two tough leagues and everyone will be gunning for us.” Trent Lockett echoed his teammate, “We’ll try to build on things and we played well but at the same time it doesn’t matter. The first game of the season is soon and that’s what we gave to focus on. It feels good but it’s just the beginning. We played a good game and there are a lot of things we need to work on but it’s always good to come out with a win.”

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J’Covan Brown also expressed his feelings about the victory, “It feels good. This is the start that we wanted and it gives us the opportunity to compete for all of the championships this season. We just have build and keep getting better as a unit and as individuals. We all have to put the team first and play for the guy next to them and if we do we can make a great season out of it.” However, the team won’t be able to rest on their laurels for too long according to Coach Katash, “We have practice tomorrow morning. The start of the season is always tricky. It’s intense and there’s also small injuries here and there. We have a very important week coming up.”

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2) James Feldeine had a brutal game last time out and went an abysmal 1/13 from the field in the semifinal against Nes Ziona. But that didn’t stop him from coming back with a vengeance versus Maccabi Tel Aviv as he rattled off 14 first quarter points to set the tone for the rest of the game. Feldeine is never one to hold back and he went for the jugular early and often for Jerusalem, “I don’t care if I’m 0/20 or miss my first four, that’s why I’m here. Even though coach doesn’t like scorers, he has to deal with me. I was frustrated and I wasn’t happy how I played against Nes Ziona, but I was frustrated with myself as it was probably one of the worst games of my career. I locked in and watched film and I came in today and tried to do something different in the pregame, it worked for me so I may have to stay with it.”

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Feldeine’s teammate J’Covan Brown has high praise for his partner in crime, “James is James. That’s my road dog. Like I always tell him, just be you bro, we have a lot of confidence in each other and when one of is down the other has to pick us up. After he went 1/13 last game, it’s a short term memory.” Katash knows exactly what type of player he has in Feldeine, “I didn’t have to tell him anything and he’s a confident player. He knows he’s our leader and I don’t care about how many points he scores, he’s here to lead the team to success. I haven’t met many scorers that don’t care how many points they put up and that they always put the team first.”

3) Jerusalem started the game really well, but frittered away the lead in the second quarter. The Reds could have finished the contest off much earlier but let Maccabi creep back into the game and went into halftime tied up at 46-46 when they could have had a much bigger lead. “I think we controlled the game in general,” said Feldeine, “They had their runs and they are a great team. It was key how we started off the game how we did and it gave us the confidence. We have some fighters on this team, we’re going to fight and we showed it today.” Lockett also spoke about the situation at the end of the half, “Coach wasn’t happy with our defense and how we were reading their switching defense. We fixed a few things in the second half and we were lucky to come out with the win.”

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Katash shed a bit more light on what went on at halftime, “I was very upset at halftime and it was very intense in the lockerroom. I was very upset about how we played in the second quarter. We had to be smarter both on offense and defense in order to end the first half up ten or even more. I was very angry about how we played in that second quarter. We had to play more intelligent especially against a team at this level. Maccabi made a couple of runs in the second half but we stayed with them. Ultimately I’m happy with the result.”

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Overtime
Trent Lockett was a beast by not only scoring 10 points but also by notching 5 steals against Maccabi. Lockett is no question the Reds Minister of Defense and showed why Jerusalem went out to get a player of his caliber. Lockett offers the ultimate x-factor for Jerusalem and is dangerous on both sides of the court. “Lockett has played for big teams and his defense is his ticket, “Katash said. “He’s one of the best in the business at his trade and I’m not exaggerating. He adds so much and so much character. He’s a guard version of Josh Owens.” Brown also chimes in about his new teammates attributes, “He’s special man. That dude has put his heart and soul into this team and we need it, every night we know what to expect from him; he’s going to be aggressive and he’s going to be Trent Lockett on both ends of the floor. His mindset is right and the rest of us just got to follow his lead on the defensive end and everything else will take care of itself.”

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Lockett himself was modest about the compliments, “Just another day at the office. As long as we win that’s all that matters to me. It’s super low level for me to get two fouls early and that can’t happen. Our energy was great and we never let up. Even when they went on runs we withstood them and at the end of the game we ended up on top.”

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And-1
J’Covan Brown took a huge spill in the semifinals against Nes Ziona, slipping on the floor and landing up on his back in pain. After last game it was clear that Brown was in brutal pain, but that didn’t stop him from playing and supporting his teammates, “I’m out there playing, it’s hard to ignore it but you want to go out there and play for the guys. It wasn’t about me but for those guys, I knew I had to be out there to give something whether it was five fouls or whatever the case may be. Just be a body or a voice. I told the guys that they can count on me and as long as I can walk every night you’ll see me. I was aching but it is what it is. You can’t think about it and you just got to win the game.”

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Game Report
Hapoel Jerusalem defeated Maccabi Tel Aviv 84-83 to win the Winner Cup Preseason Tournament at the Holon Arena in from of over 5,000 fans. In a tight affair, both sides played high level basketball throughout the 40 minutes but the Reds had just a bit more guile to take the hard earned victory.

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James Feldeine led all scorers with 20 points, MVP Suleiman Briamoh dropped 17 points, J’Covan brown added 12 points, Trent Lockett finished the night with 10 points and 5 steals while Tamir Blatt has 7 points and 8 assists for Jerusalem. Elijah Bryant scores 18 points, Omri Casspi chipped with 14 points as Scottie Wilbekin added 11 points in the loss for Maccabi.

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It didn’t take long for James Feldeine to brush off any rust from his 1/13 shooting in the semifinal as Jerusalem’s star guard rattled off 3 free throws to start the game to help the Reds to a 9-2 lead out of the gate. Tarik Black got busy near the rim to give Maccabi a push but Tamir Blatt with 5 assists ran the point like a pro allowing Suleiman Braimoh and a red hot Feldeine with 14 points to give Jerusalem a 28-20 lead after ten minutes of action.

Feldeine and Blatt continued their fine display but Yovel Zoosman and Omri Casspi helped cut the Jerusalem advantage to just 5 points, 34-29 midway through the second quarter. Buckets by Trent Lockett, J’Covan Brown and Feldeine extended the Reds lead to 40-31. However, Scottie Wilbekin, Nate Wolters and Elijah Bryant led a Maccabi 15-6 run to end the half to knot the score up at 46 all after twenty minutes of end to end action.

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Both sides played tight out of the break with Casspi and Brown trading baskets but a triple by Cohen and a layup by Bryant gave Maccabi a 59-54 lead with 3:35 remaining in the third quarter. But a Nimrod Levi 3-pointer and a four point play by Braimoh (2 point basket, foul shot tipped in by Avdija) cut the Yellow & Blue advantage to 65-63 by the end of the frame.

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Bryant ran off five straight points for Maccabi but Jerusalem quickly came back to pull within a points 70-69 thanks to a Bar Timor layup. It began to rain 3’s soon thereafter as Trent Lockett for the Reds and Quincy Acy and Elijah Bryant for the Yellow & Blue all scored from deep as Ioannis Sfairpoulos’s squad held a 78-74 lead with 3:30 minutes to go in the contest.

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But Lockett split the Maccabi defense for a 2-pointer, Brown hit a triple and Feldeine went for an and-1 to give Jerusalem a 10-0 run and a 82-78 advantage with 1:56 remaining. The sides once again traded baskets as time ran out for the Yellow & Blue and Hapoel Jerusalem captured the Winner Cup Preseason Tournament with a 84-83 win.