Hapoel Jerusalem faces Elan Bearnais in Champions League action on Wednesday at 9pm. The Reds come into the clash with an 8-3 record and are at the top of the standings while the French squad is sitting at 4-7 and are in 7th place.
Head Coach Oded Katash looked ahead to the contest, “Every game form now until the end of the season is critical as we get into the final stages of the competitions, especially in Europe.”
With 3 losses, it may be surprising that Jerusalem is in pole position in Group B considering last year the Reds finished with only two losses which was only good enough for 2nd place. “This can happen and last season the gap was wider among the teams. This year is a different story as there aren’t any weak teams in the group and every game is tough.”
What will Elan Bernais have to offer? “They are better than their record is and they have a lot of talent, size, athleticism and aggressiveness. We have to be ready to play a physical game and I am expecting an aggressive game from our team.”
Suleiman Braimoh still remembers the last time they played the French squad, “People know I hate losing and it is still fresh in my head, but this will be a good opportunity to avenge that loss.”
Shelvin Mack, who joined the club just this past week will make his continental debut for the Reds and coach Katash doesn’t want to put to much pressure out of the box on his new addiction, “We will have to wait and see what he will add to the team. We’re happy he is here with us and you can see the passion that he has. He wants to learn and he is picking things up quickly. You can’t expect that a player who is only here a week to play his best game, but there is no question that he will be a good addition as time goes by.”
“He is a savvy vet who has played seven years pro at a very high level,” Braimoh said about his new teammate. “Those are things that I don’t think are quantifiable. You can’t really out your finger on what they bring. But those things you can see from experience. He’s going to help us in every facet.”
Jerusalem has had issues on the defensive end of late and Katash knows that if his players don’t lock down they will be in trouble, “We can’t expect to give up over 100 points and win and you can’t count on having such a great shooting night from so many players like we had at Anwil. We are well aware of that.”
Braimoh knows what the Reds will need to do on defense, “We will try to pick up the intensity. But there are high level players there and they get paid too. It’s our job to do our best to slow them down and follow the game plan.”
“If we play a possession game then we will have a long night, but if we play both sides of the floor and we play a team game then perhaps we will be able to see the differences between the two teams,” Katash concluded.