Hapoel Jerusalem defeated Hapoel Tel Aviv 87-75 in Israel Basketball Winner League action following the international break. James Feldeine scored 24 points, Josh Owens added 14 points and 10 rebounds while Bar Timor added 13 points for Jerusalem. Rich Howell dropped 22 points and pulled down 14 rebounds as Jerel McNeal chipped in with 15 points in the loss.
Jerusalem raced out to a 26-19 lead after ten minutes thanks to 8 points by Owens while Howell tried to keep his side close with 8 points of his own. Oded Katash’s side received inspired play by captain Lior Eliyahu in the 2nd quarter to go along with sharpshooting by James Feldeine to take a 54-33 advantage into halftime.
The third quarter was all Hapoel Tel Aviv as they cut the Jerusalem lead to 68-57 thanks to 9 points in the frame by Howell with ten minutes remaining in the contest. Danny Franco’s squad brought the game to within just 6 points 74-68 but following a Jerusalem timeout Feldeine scored a bucket and was followed by a corner 3-pointer by Timor to increase the lead to 80-68 and that was all she wrote as Katash’s team took the win 87-75.
1) Welcome Bar Timor. The Jerusalem guard who hasn’t played big minutes this season under Coach Oded Katash, was given the starting nod, played 24 minutes and scored 13 points in the win. Although he was 2/8 from beyond the arc, he hit a 3-pointer late in the game to salt away the contest that brought owner Eyal Homsky out of his seat. “I feel good. I’m happy that I was able to help and it as a good feeling that we are winning and playing well.” The guard sheepishly said following the game. On a night that Tamir Blatt didn’t play his best basketball, Timor was able to step up and make the difference.
2) Although Hapoel Tel Aviv didn’t have one of their best games, Rich Howell was one of the few bright spots. The former Jerusalem big man has always been a double-doible machine and was just that again scoring 22 points and grabbing 14 boards. After being out due to a substance abuse suspension Howell has been working his was back into shape and is beginning to look like the the Howell of old. Captain Raviv Limonad talked about the Red’s center, “Howell takes a tremendous amount to heart and he does a lot for the team. He does what the coach wants of him and other than his professional side he is also a great teammate.” Coach Franco also spoke highly of Howell, “Rich has joined the team during the season and we are still building. We haven’t yet played much together with this squad and we will get better as we do.”
3) Lior Eliyahu gave an inspired performance especially in the second quarter. If Jerusalem wants to make waves this season Eliyahu will have to give more outings like he did against Hapoel Tel Aviv where he scored 8 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, dished our 5 assists and had 3 blocked shots. Coach Katash commended his captain, “Lior was fantastic in the first half. When we move the ball and we have bigs that can do that then the offense opens up and Lior is a big part of this. This is how he needs to continue. All in all I’m happy with his game today.”
Hapoel Tel Aviv didn’t show up during the first twenty minutes of the game as Jerusalem won the battle on the boards, assists and just plain out dominated Franco’s side. But the third quarter was a totally different story as Tel Aviv chipped away and got themselves back into the game. However, there’s just so much you can do when your bench scores only 4 points. Yes 4 points. That’s all Hapoel Tel Aviv could muster out of their bench players and that’s just not going to cut it. Three of those points came from Alade Aminu in 21 minutes of play which is just not what you’d expect from one of the foreigners.
The Rafi Menco situation is not a healthy one as it’s clear that management doesn’t want him but Coach Franco certainly does as he stated in the post game press conference last night. After being released and told to find a new team, the forward showed up for practice. I’m not sure what’s going on behind the scenes but it’s just ugly when it’s all over the press and that’s not going to help your team’s performance. Limonad was asked about the situation and he said bluntly, “We have been advised not to talk about it.” It will be interesting to see how this story continues to develop.