Hapoel Tel Aviv defeated Hapoel Jerusalem 86-81 at the Drive In Arena in Tel Aviv in a game that played out dramatically near its end. With Tel Aviv sporting a 16 point, 73-57 lead with 7:43 remaining in the 4th quarter, Jerusalem came storming back with a 18-2 run to tie up the contest 75-75 on a Startos Perperologou (17p) 3-pointer with 3:03 left in the game. However, MVP Adrian Banks (22p) drained a clutch 3 and Raviv Limonad (13p) added one of his own less than a minute later to give Tel Aviv a 81-75 and the never looked back as they wrapped up the home victory.
1) Adrian Banks was a MONSTER! The guard who wears #1 on his back scored 22 points (4/7 from 3) and pulled down 8 rebounds in close to 31 minutes of play. Banks led the Tel Aviv guards to 63 of the team’s 86 points as Ty McKee (15p), Limonad & Jerel McNeal 13 points each all had tremendous showings as he summed up the game and if there was a plan to rely on the guards for scoring, “It’s kind of how the game played out, but they have a big team. They can play big on you and they have athletic bigs but tonight we saw that we were quicker against their guards and against their bigs. We made some good shots tonight.” Banks also reflected on the Derby loss and getting quickly back in track, “We just had a bad moment and we’ve been a zone the last few months and we are just trying to hold on to that momentum.”
2) Jerusalem Coach Oded Katash is a stand up guy and has never been afraid to be critical of not only the players but first and foremost himself. I asked him if there was anything he could take away from the game and he was very frank when he answered me, “I can take a lot of things mainly what we shouldn’t do. We need to look at ourselves, myself, the staff and the tactical preparation for the game. Each player should do the same thing and see if they came into the game ready to go. But first and foremost I have to look at myself. We didn’t play well and certainly not well enough to beat Hapoel Tel Aviv.”
3) Katash always shows amazing poise when he speaks at the post match press conferences and is never shy to rattle himself and those around him. He knows how to push the right buttons and that will go a long way as the regular season nears its end and the playoffs will be right around the corner. Ronald Roberts spoke about not being able to match the energy that Tel Aviv brought to the game, “They played harder then us and we could not match their energy. We were not resilient to the runs they made during the game. But we’ll be fine. Personally I’m not worried about this loss. We will be fine going into the playoffs.”
Tel Aviv moved the ball well and most definitely had the better end of the chances playing with much higher energy than the Jerusalem Reds something that Coach Danny Franco was very happy with especially if his squad want to do some damage in the playoffs. On the flip side, Jerusalem has been inconsistent with their results even-though they are in second place in league play. Winning away at Maccabi, beating Ashdod by 20 but losing to Gilboa/Galil and Hapoel Tel Aviv shows that Jerusalem is still a work in progress. Will they still be that work in progress when the playoffs begin? Who knows but one area that Jerusalem must get better at especially if they want to go far is their free throw percentage. With another game at 14/24 from the charity stripe they in essence gave away 10 points which is something that they’ve been doing all year long. Their free throw shooting may be their Achilles heal and when it comes down to the playoffs it may cost them dearly.