Hapoel Jerusalem dropped Nes Ziona 100-73 at the Pais Arena. James Feldeine once again was the star of the show as number 14 scored at will in the first quarter to put the Reds in front for good. Feldeine ended the game with 24 points, Josh Owens scored 16 points and Amare Stoudemire added 14 points in the win. Guard Yogev Ohayon became the 4th player in league history to score 1,000 points, grab 1,000 rebounds and dish out 1,000 assists. Talib Zanna led Nes Ziona with 18 points and Tal Dunne scored 17 points.
Nes Ziona kept Jerusalem at bay for the majority of the first quarter as Dunne took center stage, but Feldeine’s 15 points helped lead a 12-3 run to end the frame ahead 27-20. Zanna and Daequan Cook tried to keep the visitor’s in the game but Stoudemire, Tamir Blatt and Lior Eliyahu supplied the offense to give the Reds a 54-37 lead at the half.
Owens and Feldeine stepped up their play for Jerusalem in the 3rd quarter as the hosts took a 76-55 advantage into the final frame. Feldeine rattled off a quick 5 points to begin the 4th quarter as Jerusalem cruised to the 27 point victory.
1) What else can be written about James Feldeine that hasn’t been written so far this season? He’s a star. He’s a consummate professional. He gives 110% effort every second he’s on the floor. He’s as good as advertised and even better. What a treat to watch him play game in and game out for Jerusalem this season and for the next two seasons as well. “James was hot tonight,” Coach Katash said. “He got hot and we started to shoot the ball well. We then went on a nice run. We stepped it up defensively in the second half,” Amare credited the guard. And how about the game itself, James? “I think us making tough shots and playing good defense was key. We started off the game a little slow but I made a few shots and the crowd got into it and the team got into it, we picked it up from there.” Can Feldeine play better and his he at his best? No, (I’m not playing not playing my best),” he said with a smile. “But I’m playing well and we keep winning. That’s all that really matters. I’m not really thinking about how I am playing. I’m happy we’re wining and that I’m contributing. I’m one of the leaders on this team and I try my best.”
2) Jerusalem took a page out of Maccabi Tel Aviv’s playbook from last night and demolished the opposition in front of them. The Reds manhandled Nes Ziona who played tough for the first seven minutes of the game or so and then collapsed under Jerusalem’s pressure and play. Oded Katash was happy with his team’s performance but didn’t look at the game as a statement of where the team currently is, “I saw the Maccabi game yesterday and I think it’s still early to determine what will be going forward. The league is tight and there is still the playoffs which will be interesting to see how it will play out. Our goal is to play well and to win. This isn’t the stage yet where we are thinking about first place.”
3) Amare Stoudemire was Amare Stoudemire once again. The big man was dominant in Israeli league play and at the tender age of 36 he’s not looking like a day over 26. STAT plays tough D, can hit the midrange jumper and can dominate the paint. Not bad. He was pretty happy with the team’s performance, “Tonight was a good game and we played well on both ends of the court. We got a pretty good win and it was nice.” Was the win a statement to the rest of the league? Not looking to make headlines Amare said, “No statements made, we are just playing basketball.”
Jerusalem looked good, actually very good and outmatched Nes Ziona big time just like Maccabi did against Beer Sheva. But Katash also knows he needs a healthy squad to go head to head with the best as the season winds down. With a number of players hurt, injuries provide an unfortunate challenge to all of the teams and some players will need to step up who perhaps haven’t yet had the opportunity to shine for the Reds this season, “Lior Eliyahu took a hit and he will be examined. Hopefully it won’t be anything serious as he just returned from an injury and he played well in the first half while helping out on the offensive side of the game. Chris Johnson wasn’t ready to play and we will have to see if he will be able to against Eilat. But it will take time.” Feldeine also spoke about the importance of having all fo the available players on the roster put in some quality minutes against Nes Ziona, “We need everybody as it’s a long year. We still have CJ and JB out some will need everybody. We are going to need everybody and any game anybody can step up. We need everybody to have confidence to play well and today was definitely a step towards that.”