Hapoel Jerusalem defeated Gran Canaria by 20 points, 87-67 in what turned out to be a final lopsided scoreline. Jerome Dyson was the contest’s MVP scoring 20 points, 4/7 from 31point land and dishing out 6 assists while Amare Stoudemire and Tarence Kinsey finished off the game with 14 points a piece.
Hapoel Jerusalem and Gran Canaria went neck and neck in the first half as the Reds took a 39-38, 1-point lead into halftime. Jerome Dyson helped the hosts with 11 points on 4/5 shooting while Amare Stoudemire chipped in with 8 points however, Jerusalem only went 4/9 from the charity stripe and 3/9 from beyond the arc. Gran Canaria finished the half off with a 10-2 run after falling behind 37-28 thanks to Eulis Baez who finished the first 20 minutes with 8 points as veteran Bo McCalebb dropped 19 points for the visitors.
Hapoel began pulling ahead of the Spanish side after 30 minutes of action thanks to Dyson’s sharpshooting from 3-point land draining three of them to raise his game high to 20 points as the Reds took a 64-57 lead. With the hosts sensing victory they opened up an 18 points lead with 4:58 left in the contest as Brain Randle put a big punctuation mark on his 10 point evening with a massive dunk as Hapoel coasted the last few minutes to a smart and decisive 20 point win, 87-67.
1) Hapoel put on a defensive clinic as both Tarence Kinsey and Jerome Dyson played ultimate lockdown defense on Gran Canaria’s Kyle Kuric and co. Kinsey clocked in with 19 first half minutes but if you just looked at the scoresheet you’d see that he scored only 2 points during that same time and that’s why you just can’t look at the scoresheet. Nowhere does it say what kind of defensive prowess he provided to shutdown the Spaniard’s offense and how much he did to keep Gran Canaria at bay in a very close first half. Kinsey’s offense came alive over the last twenty minutes as the lanky guard dropped 8 of his points in the final frame to put away the visitors swishing midrange jumpers and looking mighty fine for Simone Pianigiani’s troops.
2) And speaking of Pianigiani, he had his team brilliantly prepared for action against a tough Gran Canaria team who had just come off a fantastic win against Real Madrid. The game plan worked to a T as all cylinders were clicking on the Red V8 engine. One thing that the Italian Head Coach made sure to do was hit Gran Canaria as hard as his team could especially since the turnaround from the Madrid game was very, very short. Credit to the coach for making sure his side was ready to go both physically and mentally. Now the mental factor will play center stage when Jerusalem heads to the islands for Game Two knowing that a win will close out the series and send them to the EuroCup Semifinals. They’ll need to be careful and come out strong because the last thing that Pianigiani will want to see is his team going into a deep hole early and we’ve all seen that movie one to many times this year. My guess is that Hapoel will come out ready to roll and take home the gold.
3) Brian Randle looked like he has played all season long with Hapoel Jerusalem. It’s as if he didn’t miss a beat coming off of the bench for 17+ minutes scoring 10 points on 4/5 from the field. Not only did he seamlessly integrate into the team, he also gave some veteran presence and a burst of energy off of the bench. Another player who provided that extra punch was Shawn Jones who scored 9 points and pulled down 4 rebounds in 12 minutes. Jones, a force on the floor, made smart baskets helping Jerusalem to the win. I asked him about not having the chance to play more often as he usually doesn’t feature in league games and he said straight out that it was a difficult transition. All I have to say is that Jones could be a massive force for years to come in Jerusalem and the team better keep a good eye on him because he is a true winner.
The question was raised as to why Jerusalem looked so good tonight while in the State Cup Final they laid the proverbial egg and couldn’t get anything going. One of the main reasons as I see it is the lack of Israelis that played against Gran Canaria as being why they won the EuroCup tilt. 22 minutes and 5 points can easily be wiped away by some good performances and team basketball which is exactly what we saw. In Israeli league action and State Cup play there has to always be two Israelis on the court at all times, meaning that they must play at total of 80 minutes. With Hapoel’s short rotation and even shorter list of available Israelis makes a European game a bit of easier to manage when you can play as many foreigners as you want.