Nahariya took a commanding 2-0 lead over Hapoel Jerusalem in their Israel Basketball best of 5 Quarterfinals series thanks to a 77-64 win in the northern city. With five players in double digits, the hosts overcame a 36-35 halftime deficit to cruise to the 13-point win. Jonathan Skjoldebrand scored 16 points including going 4/7 from beyond the arc, while Tyrone Nash chipped in with 14 points and Scotty Hopson with 13. Lior Eliyahu attempted to keep the Reds in the game with 13 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists but didn’t receive much help from his teammates as the Reds fell into a 0-2 hole.
1) Nahariya out-hustled, outplayed and just clearly wanted to win the game more than Jerusalem as Arik Alfasi’s team took a 2-0 series lead. The capital city side never got into a rhythm and couldn’t find a way to match the intensity that the hosts showed on the court. Coach Simone Pianigiani didn’t find a way to stop the Nahariya offense and said that his team had a tough time when their opponents spread the floor and were able to use athleticism to get Jerusalem out of sync. The most disturbing part of the evening for the coach must have been watching his team just disintegrate before his very eyes in the second half.
2) Once again Jerusalem was snake bitten by the same issues that have plagued them all season long. Free throws, giving up way too many offensive rebounds and turnovers. If you’ve watched Hapoel during the 2016/17 campaign this is nothing new and Nahariya was able to take advantage of the Reds in all of those parameters. The other problem which keeps popping up is that the defense is just too soft with no one wanting to take a hit or play rough ball allowing the Nahariya guards the ability to walk right into the paint at will. Perhaps Ike Rosefelt would be the correct man for the job, unfortunately he hasn’t featured in Pianigiani’s rotation all year long. The other person who could cause some problems for Nahariya is Amare Stoudemire, but a light injury has kept him out action so far this series. Will he play in game three? Well if there was ever a time that the NBA All-Star needs to be in uniform it is on Friday if Jerusalem has any designs of winning. They will have to play much more physical and not allow Nahariya to go for a stroll through the park. It was just too easy.
3) Credit has to go to Nahariya for not only pulling together to steal game one but coming out and playing a solid home game to take a commanding 2-0 series lead. With the Final Four just 40 minutes away, Tyrone Nash who picked up two early fouls spoke to the Sports Rabbi as to what they will need to do to come back before Shabbat with a series sweep over favored Jerusalem:
“We just wanted to come out and get a better start than last game. In front of this great crowd and these amazing fans we fed off of the energy, we executed down the stretch and played great defensively. It feels good but we still have one more to get.”
Picking up two early fouls:
“I had confidence in my team and I knew they would pick up where I left off. I was a great cheerleader on the sidelines.”
Wanting the win more than Jerusalem:
“I think we wanted it more. We came out here to win. We are trying to be humble but we’re hungry. We’re trying to seize any opportunity we have. If they are going to give us an opportunity, then we are going to take it.”
Closing out the series in the capital city:
“I think we need to watch the first quarter from the first game and see what they are capable of doing. That should provide more than enough energy to play well. If we play well for the full 40 minutes and do what we’ve been doing, then it will take care of itself.”
Stu Douglass is playing with a ton of confidence and eventhough he didn’t have a stellar offensive game, he was still called upon to take the technical free throw which he coolly slotted home. The sharp shooter spoke about the importance of being calm and his that played a huge factor in the game one win:
“We calmed down completely and didn’t match their intensity at the beginning of the game. Coach said at halftime that we couldn’t have played any worse so just keep at it and we would have a chance. We had a chance at the end and luck played a big part of the win.
The game two win and the key for game three:
“We started out game two well and matched their intensity. We just have to keep the same mindset. Derwin Kitchen has been a very big calming factor and played really well in the first game where he took control when we really needed it. He had another solid game last night and as a team we were calm and collected. The key will be defense and as long as we stay focused on defense then we will be fine.”