Hapoel Jerusalem easily disposed of Maccabi Ashdod 87-64 in the port city. Josh Owens starred for the Reds with 17 points and 16 assists while Bar Timor dropped 17 points and J’Covan Brown added 15 points in the win. Lis Shoshi was the dominant player for the host’s with 20 points and 12 rebounds.
Jerusalem jumped out to a 27-17 lead after ten minutes thanks to Timor’s 9 points and Owens’ 8 points while Shoshi answered with 10 points. Jake Pemberton drilled home a pair of 3’s to keep Ashdod hanging around but Brown helped give the Reds a 50-34 advantage at the half and never looked back. Owens, Timor and Lior Eliyahu helped Jerusalem pull away after the 3rd quarter as Oded Katash’s squad took a 66-49 into the final frame which offered Tomer Levinson the opportunity to clock in 5 minutes and 5 points as Jerusalem ran away with the 23-point, 87-64 victory.
1) Josh Owens was spectacular as the center dominated Ashdod early to help Jerusalem to the lead. Owens has had a tough time of late especially when playing against bigger centers but against a smaller Ashdod he was able to pull down 6 offensive rebounds which converted into baskets for #22. “That certainly played a factor but I went strong to the boards and every game I try to create opportunities for myself and the team. Today it worked out on the offensive boards.” Coach Oded Katash complimented him as well, “He’s a player with a lot of experience and he is a professional on and off of the court. He is a player who is a pleasure to coach.” James Feldeine also spoke about Owens, “He’s a professional and I’m happy for him. He helps us out with the little things. He’s so athletic and without him we wouldn’t win some games. I’m happy that he started off the game really strong and he kept on going from there.” Jerusalem needs Owens to be a significant factor for the team and he will when the matchups are favorable, but it’s not just his play off the court it’s the whole package that he brings to the team. He’s just a good all around guy.
2) Youngster Tomer Levinson had a chance to play 5+ minutes in the last quarter for his first real appearance of the season and scored 5 points for Jerusalem. This summer he will be playing for the Israel Under-20 team and last season he was playing in Osijek, Croatia. However, he’s back home in Israel now and practicing with the capital city side. Josh Owens spoke about the Israeli league rookie, “I think it’s great when a young guy who comes into practice and works hard is able to get that opportunity and experience. They don’t always have the opportunity to get into the flow of the game and all the guys rallied around him and we’re all happy to see him get out there.” Coach Katash added, “I am happy for him. He’s a guy that works very hard every day and continues to improve. That’s how a young player is supposed to act and behave and I’m sure he will continue to keep getting better.” While Feldeine also heaped praise on Levinson, “That’s my guy. I’m really happy and he works really hard. He does a lot of lifting with our strength guy and extra work with Ryan Pannone and I’m happy he was able to get into the game.”
3) Holon is one of the top teams and in fact they are in first place due to having played an extra game. Jerusalem will certainly want to show their worth against another Israeli league heavyweight and Feldeine definitely know the importance of the contest, “Big game. We are fighting for first place and Holon s a good team with good American players and good Israeli guys. We know it will be a battle but we will be at home and after our last loss at home we want to make our fans happy. It’s a long season and we have to keep fighting.”
Maccabi Ashdod is in trouble. They have been playing poorly and shorthanded for some time now and it’s becoming more and more difficult for them to compete. With a 3-7 record and languishing near the bottom of the standings, their 4th loss in a row is concerning and Coach Brad Greenberg is well aware of that. “I want us to play better and I’m concerned about but we are going to do between December 25-January 5 when we come back and play our next league game. We have to make some quantum leaps as to how we are playing by January 5. We have a tough schedule at the begging of January but we have to work our way through until we get to play a little bit lighter competition that we are at a different level as a team.”