Hapoel Jerusalem downed Hapoel Beer Sheva 108-74 as seven of Coach Oded Katash’s players scored in double digits in the win. Both squads came out of the gate on fire but the hosts eventually began to pull away midway in the second quarter an never looked back in the 34 point victory. Bar Timor earned MVP honors with 12 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds, Tamir Blatt added 16 points hitting four triples while James Feldeine chipped in with 15 points. Spencer Weisz led led Beer Sheva with 21 points, marksman John Petrucelli scored 20 points hitting 4 of 5 from beyond the arc and TJ Williams scored 16 points in the defeat.
Beer Sheva’s Da’Sean Butler was welcomed back by the Jerusalem faithful after playing for the Reds last season and promptly led his new squad into battle along with Spencer Weisz and TJ Williams. But Jerusalem matched them point for point in the early going thanks to Tamir Blatt, Idan Zalmanson, Trent Lockett and James Feldeine as the hosts held a slim 29-27 lead after ten minutes.
Bar Timor got into the action early on in the second quarter with a steal and layup while Lockett hit a triple to increase the Jerusalem advantage to 39-32 midway through the frame. John Petrucelli got hot for Beer Sheva for Rami Hadar’s squad, however, Oded Katash’s crew owned the last couple of minutes to take a 53-39 lead into halftime.
Blatt and Lockett each nailed a 3-pointer to open the third quarter as Petrucelli scored for the southern side but Jerusalem kept building their lead up to 72-50 with 4:45 remaining in the frame. Weisz hit a layup and a triple while Williams hit one from long distance as well but the Reds held a 85-62 advantage after thirty minutes of play.
Feldeine and Petrucelli traded 3-pointers to start the fourth quarter as Blatt and Thomas kept scoring at will for the hosts as Jerusalem ran away with a 108-74 win.
1) The first quarter was a track meet as the teams combined for 56 points over the opening ten minutes of action. However, that’s a game that Beer Sheva is going to have trouble winning due to their depth against Jerusalem’s quality which dwarves most clubs in Israel. Add to the fact that Rami Hadar’s squad didn’t play much defense, the result shouldn’t be shocking as we’ve seen this movie numerous times play out between the pair of clubs over the past number of months whether it was in the Winner Cup or in last season’s playoffs. Coach Katash spoke about his club’s slow start, “I was afraid that we wouldn’t come into this game well and we began by giving up 27 points in the first quarter. But we reduced that to 12 points in the second quarter and we played defense.” Jerusalem big man Idan Zalmanson also spoke about the keys to victory, “We made a point of rebounding and being aggressive and we picked it up in the second quarter and you saw that.” Beer Sheva Captain Spencer Weisz also commented on his teams’s defensive play talking about not matching Jerusalem’s physicality and intensity, “Tough game for us tonight and it started on the defensive end as we didn’t match their physicality. The game plan was spot on and we didn’t bring the intensity. There are X’s and O’s and if you’re not matching their level they will take advantage of that. We didn’t match that tonight.”
2) There’s a lot of good to take away from this game for Hapoel Jerusalem. Katash was content with a number of things his squad did, “Our defense was good (created 7 steals and added 4 blocks) but we are still working on it. We also shared the ball well (24 assists) which was positive. We also did a good rebounding winning the battle of the boards (43-29).” He was also happy with Bar Timor’s performance, “I was happy with Bar today and he doesn’t have to score or dish out assists for me to be happy with his play. I was happy to see his energy and that of the players coming off of the bench as well as their passion.” Finally Katash has made it clear all season long that he doesn’t care how many points Israelis have compared to the foreigners and made that point crystal clear after the Sabras scored 46 points compared to just three last week at Maccabi Tel Aviv, “We have 12 players and I don’t look at if they are Israelis or not. We are a team and I don’t look at the fact that we had 7 players in double digits, I’m happy that many of the players took part in the win.”
3) John Petrucelli shot lights out today with four triples and 20 points for Beer Sheva. His play was so effective, efficient and entertaining that when he fouled out the Jerusalem faithful gave him an ovation. The Sports Rabbi had a chance to catch up with the Southern squad’s sharpshooter following the game to see how he’s been adjusting to playing in Europe after starring in the G-League, “I’m definitely starting to find my spots and getting used to the speed of the game. It’s different than what I’m used to.” Petrucelli also commented about how the team is beginning to jell together after a number of personnel moves, “We have great chemistry with all these guys and I would say that we are a close team in the locker room. Of course there are a few things we need to continue to work on to keep getting better.”
One of the players that just joined the team is former Jerusalem small forward Da’Sean Butler, “Da’Sean is a great player who can play both inside and outside and that versatility helps us for sure. He’s also a great locker room guy. He’s a veteran so he has a lot of knowledge of the game which helps us as well.”
How about the ovation by the opposing fans after your 20 point performance, “That was pretty cool! I never had that happen to me before especially on the road. I wasn’t sure if it was for me or for a player from Jerusalem getting subbed in. Either way I think it was pretty cool!”
Finally, Hapoel Holon just signed a player that you’re very familiar with in Troy Caupain, “Troy is like a brother to me he’s a great player. I think he is going to fit in great with Holon, I’m excited to play them next week, it should be fun!”
Da’Sean Butler was given a very warm welcome back to Jerusalem as he returned with Hapoel Beer Sheva after recently signing with the southern squad, “It was good to see the guys, the staff and everybody as well as being in the building. We may not have had the best season last year but it was memorable as the people were so great and the fans were amazing as was the staff. It’s a place that my whole family enjoyed.”
How did the deal go down to join Beer Sheva? “I was waiting at him for a job and I got a call from the coaching staff and I got some good information from some friends that suggested I go. Everything worked out and I got a job. Beer Sheva’s great and it’s just fantastic to be back in Israel, period. I jumped at it and it was one of those things that I knew I couldn’t miss the opportunity.”
Butler will be able to provide some serious veteran leadership, “We have a lot of good games coming up and it’s a long season and we can go out and get better game by game. Hopefully I can provide some experience in certain situations and that time will come and we can do better.”