Hapoel Jerusalem defeated Nes Ziona on the road 90-74 thanks to tremendous performances by J’Covan Brown (18p), Bar Timor (15p), Tamir Blatt (13p/8a) and James Feldeine (14p). Golan Gutt (18p), Chris Dowe (13p) and Yaniv Solomon (11p) paced the host’s in the loss.
Jerusalem opened up the game strong scoring at will to take a 22-12 lead after the first quarter thanks to strong rebounding with 18 boards and poor shooting by Nes Ziona going a miserable 3/15 from the field. Feldeine was whistled for 3 of the Reds 8 fouls over the first ten minutes sending him to the bench with 6 points for the majority of the half. However, Bar Timor and J’Covan Brown picked up the slack as the guards drained 25 points between them extending the visitor’s lead to 49-32 by the break.
Nes Ziona rode Golan Gutt’s sharp shooting in the 3rd quarter as the Israel international drilled four 3 pointers in the frame to pull Nadav Zilberstein’s squad to within ten points, 68-58 as the contest headed into the final ten minutes. But that’s when Gutt’s Israel National team teammate, Tamir Blatt got rolling for Oded Katash’s side and drilled three shots from beyond the arc to lead Jerusalem to a 90-74 victory.
1) Tamir Blatt was tremendous in the final quarter and made sure that Nes Ziona had no designs on making an unexpected comeback. James Feldeine spoke about Blatt’s performance, “He’s working. He understands his role and knows what he needs to do to get to the next level. He puts in the extra work and I see it everyday. I’m happy for him and he needs to keep on going. He’s young and he’s learning from us as we’re teaching him everyday and I like the way he’s going and how he’s working. His fathers’s a coach so he knows what he needs to do when it’s not practice and does extra stuff. He’s going to be big for us. He’s our starting point guard so we need him for sure.” J’Covan Brown added, “He does his job and we can always count on him just like we can count on everyone on this team. We all have faith in each other.” Coach Katash didn’t have much to say when I asked him about Blatt and simply put it, “He’s there. He plays with tremendous confidence.”
2) James Feldeine was called for 3(!) fouls in the first quarter and he spoke about what that meant to him following the game, “That has never happened to me in my life. It was frustrating but I had to calm down a little bit and we were playing well in the second quarter so I wasn’t getting to frustrated because it didn’t matter if I was on the floor or the bench as long as we were winning. It was just a crazy play, but we ended the half on a good note and I was able to get back in the game for the last few seconds and made a three. It was a good momentum swing.”
3) Nes Ziona Coach Nadav Zilberstein spoke about the game, “We missed many shots at the start of the game and that hurt us in wha we wanted to do. We have to learn how to play in these types of situations. You can’t give Jerusalem what we gave them as they will punish us.” He continued on about playing both in Europe and Israel, “I don’t think it should influence how they play whatsoever. The players always want to play and now they have two games a week, that’s their job and it should be the biggest joy. We have to know how to prepare properly to go from game to game. We had good momentum in the third quarter and could have cut the lead further as we made 3-4 defensive stops in a row and then we didn’t use our brains for the next play and you have to know how to play intelligently, get some points and then you can perhaps make a comeback.”
Jerusalem is looking good. At times it seemed they could have taken a 30+ point lead and although Nes Ziona made a run in the 3rd quarter, this game like others was never in doubt. Chris Johnson was out due to a light injury while Yogev Ohayon is also out which could cause some problems both in the front and back court for Katash. The Reds have a tricky game in Antwerp in Champions League action and Saturday they travel up to Gilboa/Galil who under Coach Ariel Beit Halachmi always has his team ready to go. In fact they just surprised Hapoel Tel Aviv.