Hapoel Jerusalem kept their EuroCup hopes alive by beating Valencia at home 79-66 in an exciting game which was played at the highest of levels to quote Head Coach Simone Pianigiani following the contest.
The first half was a close affair as Rafa Martinez, the Valencia star for close to a decade led the way for the Spaniards with 15 points while Tarence Kinsey helped Hapoel to a 4-point, 41-39 halftime lead with 9 points of his own. Valencia came out on fire in the 3rd quarter and dominated the hosts taking a 57-53 lead going into the decisive final frame as Jerusalem’s shooting percentage stood at roughly 33%. However, the last quarter was all Hapoel as they outscored Valencia 26-9 thanks to Yotam Halperin’s 3-pointers, Curtis Jerrells’ sharp shooting and a masterful performed by Tarence Kinsey to run away with a 13 point victory, 79-66.
1) With Valencia taking a 4-point lead into the final ten minutes, all seemed to be lost for the Reds after a poor 3rd quarter. But that wasn’t the case as they slammed the visitors with an unbelievable 4th quarter where everything just clicked. Tarence Kinsey told me after the game in the lockerroom: “It was win or go home.” Travis Peterson also chimed in: “We definitely wanted it bad.” And I’ve got to say, they just wanted it more, there’s no question. That last quarter was just amazing to witness live and in person.
2) Head Coach Simone Pianigiani didn’t want to talk about one player or another when asked about Yotam Halperin, but I’ll tell you what I thought about his play. Absolutely incredible when the team needed it most. Halperin came in to relieve the foul plagued Jerome Dyson and Tarence Kinsey in the first quarter when both players each picked up a pair of fouls. Halperin played like his usual self, like a captain and a true professional. In the last quarter he hit two gigantic shots from beyond the arc and helped his side just bust a move in money time. Now that’s what a true leader does for his team.
3) A number of interesting stats jumped out on the stat sheet. Valencia grabbed 18(!) offensive rebounds which is just way, way too much. Four came early on in the 3rd quarter when the visitors cut into the Hapoel lead and went ahead by four by the end of the frame. Valencia went only 4/24 from 3-point land with Rafa Martinez hitting all of their treys. Hapoel’s defense was stifling all afternoon long and made sure that almost each and every long distance shot was contested as Kinsey mentioned: “It was about the five on five and the rotation by playing as a unit.” That was certainly the key for Hapoel. Lastly turnovers by both teams were kept at a minimum with each club only coughing up the ball 7 times in an extremely well played and entertaining game.
Curtis Jerrells started off very slow but as the game went into the last quarter he began hitting his shots and brought his game total up from 4 to 17 points over the last ten minutes as the guard said following the contest: “The guys were talking to me and keeping me confident. They was with me on that and they told me that I could do it and they needed me to close the game and we did it.” They certainly did do it when they needed it most. A big congratulations and a Shabbat Shalom to all!