Hapoel Jerusalem defeated Hapoel Tel Aviv 100-84 at the Drive-In Arena as Austin Daye starred with 28 points in a quality team effort that featured 27 assist in the post-Jerrells era. An active Rich Howell added 14 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists while Alen Omic and captain Yotam Halperin each chipped in with 11 points. Jeff Allen finished the night with 20 points as Tomer Ginat dropped 16 in the loss.
1) Hapoel Jerusalem looked like a team against Hapoel Tel Aviv. Simply put, it was a team masterpiece with Head Coach Fotis Katsikaris playing the conductor. From all of the players looking out for each other on the court to the ball distribution with 27(!) assists to 14(!!) offensive rebounds, everything clicked to perfection. Austin Daye was the MVP, but in reality he was the beneficiary of the quality team play that the Jerusalem Reds displayed. Smiles on and off of the court, high-fives, handshakes to pats on the back the coach couldn’t have scripted it better after a tumultuous few weeks and with the shock release of Curtis Jerrells on Friday afternoon. Katsikaris spoke about the team’s performance: “We had 27 assists and that’s a beautiful number. This is the game I love and the game we can play. We have a great team that plays good basketball. The team comes first and nobody comes before the team.”
2) Jerusalem has entered the post-Jerrells era and if the win over Tel Aviv was any indication of what to expect, the capital city fans are in for a basketball treat of high tempo, lots of ball movement and upbeat roundball. It’s clear that Katsikaris wants to play a certain style of ball and that Jerrells just wasn’t going to fit the bill. In a day and age where the superstar player is almost always the one who will outlast a coach it was a refreshing approach and a prudent one taken by owner Ori Allon. By giving the keys and vote of confidence to the man he chose to steer the Holy City ship over the next few years, it’s clear that he is going to stay to that path and attempt to build a program with a long term vision and goals. That has to be commended. When asked how important Jerome Dyson will be to the Reds the coach replied, “Everybody is important. I want us to have an identity as a team. It will take time but we will do it.”
3) It may take time to build that identity but one area in which time is already ticking is in the EuroCup. Already at 0-2 in the 10 game group stage, it will be critical that Jerusalem begins winning some games and winning quickly. Four or five wins should place the Reds in the 4th spot which would give them a ticket to the next round, but they may be staring at a big uphill battle with Bayern Munich in front of them this Wednesday night. “We need to win games and play better. Bayern Munich is one of the favorites to win the EuroCup. There’s no extra pressure even though we lost two games as the group stage is long,” said Katsikaris. Well with a tough game ahead which could leave them 0-3, Jerusalem is going to start needing to win games sooner rather than later. Losing to Budnocost was a big blow and should have been a victory, especially at home. That’s a game that may come back to haunt them later on, but what is done is done. Jerome Dyson also chimed in, “All of our remaining EurCup games are big. We’re already down 2. We got to get this one and focus on this one and not worry about what’s ahead of us.”
On the plus side, Jerusalem won a game against Tel Aviv that most thought wouldn’t happen especially with the Jerrells release and that’s good news as it boosts confidence and puts smiles on the faces of the players. Rich Howell probably had one of the biggest smiles in the arena after the win and that’s important, very, very, very important. Howell’s a very critical piece in the puzzle and having him happy is what everyone in Jerusalem from management, to the players and fans want to see.
However, one player that didn’t look too content was Lior Eliyahu. He had only played 2:43 with a few minutes left in the 3rd quarter and when he had come off earlier he was none to happy. Then when he was subbed out in the 4th quarter, he was again a bit angry to say the least as he slapped away a towel that was given to him on the bench. Eliyahu has his moments from the good to the bad, but he’s got to take a deep breath and relax. He will get his minutes and he played plenty this week in EuroCup. Even looking at his stats against Tel Aviv in the 9:51 that he played he went 3/4 from the field good for 6 points dished out 3 assists and also pulled down 3 rebounds. He scored some important buckets and has to just plain and simple, chill out.