1) Will Hapoel Jerusalem’s State Cup victory go down as one of the all time great games? Most probably not, but it was a heck of a showing in the third quarter by the Reds who were wearing black. Katash’s side came out flying in the second half and just demolished a tired Rishon team who just didn’t have the wheels. Jerusalem is looking at the win as just one of the milestones along the way this season which still has the league championship and Champions League in front of them.
The Sports Rabbi MVP J’Covan Brown spoke about the win and what’s waiting for the team the rest of the way, “We’re going to celebrate the Cup but we got two more competitions to win. It’s going to be tough but we got to be ready for the moment.” Josh Owens also chimed in, “That’s just a milestone for us. It was a main goal for us at beginning of the season and we’ll just keep working and get ready for the next challenge.” James Feldeine as well was happy to give the fans their first Cup in over a decade, “The fans have been waiting for this for 11 years and I’m happy to be a part of this amazing organization. I’m happy for the fans and the team. We’ve been working hard for this and this was one of goals but we have more to go. It’s kind of a relief that the hard work paid off.” Da’Sean Butler also look at the Cup as just one step this season, “We have to keep working and we won this one. We can now start from zero and work for the next title.” Finally, Bar Timor echoed the same sentiment exactly, “We will continue working and take it one step at a time just as we’ve done up to now.”
2) Winning the Cup is a great feeling especially for a team that is really a new one with most of the players coming on board just this season. Butler was definitely excited to win his first Cup and talked about the fact that the whole team came together in order to capture the Cup, “This is my first Cup and I’m so excited. We came out and played team basketball where everyone got involved and everyone contributed. The atmosphere in the arena was great and the fans were awesome which made it that much easier for us to do our job.” Owens also discussed the victory, “It’s amazing. This group is really special and we work very hard. This was one of our goals and it’s great feeling to reach it.” Timor shared the exact same thoughts, “It’s amazing to win, the fans and the club deserve it and it’s great that we did it at home. Everyone is happy and now we have to look ahead.” The birthday boy Brown was all smiles as he also looked at the team factor in winning the Cup, “It feels great to be able to share the Cup with this group of guys. It’s great to call them my brothers especially on my birthday.”
3) The Black Uniforms has been the talk of the town. Jerusalem has been perfect wearing them and after Monday night’s State Cup semifinal win there was no question that they would be worn once again in the final. Brown talked about what they give the team, “The black uniforms give us the strength. They said in the past the black uniforms weren’t good but we came in here to turn it around. I think we’re undefeated with them.” Owens also spoke about the black unis, “They’ve been working out so far so we’ve stuck with them and we got the result that we wanted so we’re happy with them.” Timor commented as well, “We haven’t lost in the black so maybe that’s the secret.” But Feldeine has the best statement about them, “Shhh. We can’t say that out loud. Everyone knows about the black Unis.”
Oded Katash captured his first State Cup as a coach and his first title since the 2010 league championship with Hapoel Gilboa/Galil. Was it sweet for the coach? It certainly was, “This is very satisfying. One of the things that really came over me at the end of the game was that we deserve this Cup for the great group of players and the rest of the staff. A lot of credit has to go to Eyal Homsky and Guy Harel. I’m very happy and proud of this and I have to also know how to enjoy these moments. I wanted this very much just as everyone else, but in my opinion no one else wanted it more than me.”
Katash also looked ahead to what he has waiting for him, “Our next goal is Europe and we have to take the league seriously each and every game. We’ll have a lot of games coming ULEB and it won’t be easy. I have the National Team coming up with some difficult matchups. I have a lot of work in front of me but I’ll take tonight and tomorrow to celebrate.”
A) Josh Owens had a rough first half and picked up 3 fouls. He finally got on the scoreboard in the final frame with a good old dunk, “The first half was frustrating but I have great teammates and they just be ready. I don’t care about scoring and I’m happy that we won but it did feel good to get on the scoreboard I’m not going to lie.”
B) Tashawn Thomas was fantastic in the third quarter and was able to dominate on both ends of the court with 15 points and 10 rebounds and was named the MVP of the final by the Israel Basketball Association. Thomas has some trouble in the first half as he did in the game in Rishon a month and a half ago but was a force for Jerusalem.
C) Credit has to go to Lior Eliyahu for playing like a captain scoring 8 points on 4/6 from the field while also dishing out 6 assists in 15+ minutes of play. This is his first Cup with Jerusalem after winning with Maccabi Tel Aviv. He’s ha a tough go this season and deserved every good word that went his way after this game.
D) Rishon kept the game close for a half and just ran out of steam going into the second half. There was nothing left in the gas tank and Jerusalem who have been playing twice a week just had the wheels. Coach Guy Goodes spoke about this in the press conference as being one of the keys to his side’s loss.
E) Rishon went an abysmal 14/26 from the line and lost so many points that they desperately needed from the charity stripe. Add to that just 9 assists and you can see that Rishon didn’t have the team game that they needed against a tough Jerusalem team.