Valencia defeated Hapoel Jerusalem 90-75 in a game that was never in doubt for the Spaniards as they dominated almost every facet of the contest.
Curtis Jerrells paced the Jerusalem attack over the opening ten minutes drilling home 3, 3-pointers as the visitors hung close for the 1st quarter down by 21-17. The second frame saw Valencia extend their lead to 44-32 as Romain Sato and Fernando San Emeterio each scored 7 points as Hapoel committed 11 turnovers over the first 20 minutes.
Jerusalem’s poor play continued into the 3rd quarter as things went from bad to worse. The 12 point Valencia lead extended to 25 points as the Reds committed 16 turnovers and only pulled down 9 boards in 30 minutes. The last quarter was more of the same as Valencia closed out the 90-75 win with Fernando San Emeterio scoring 15 points, Bojan Dubljevic finishing with 14 points, Luke Sikma and Romain Sato with 12 points each, Rafa Martinez dropping 11 points and Pierre Oriola with 10 points in the victory.
1) Jerusalem was never in the game. They tried to keep it close after ten minutes but that was it. They were outplayed, out rebounded, out everything in every single category and facet of the game. Valencia neutralized Amare Stoudemire early on by putting a tight double team on him and that was that. He ended the night with 17 points, but the majority came in garbage time. Curtis Jerrells was the only true offensive force scoring 19 points and trying singlehandedly to keep his team in the game. But it was way too little on a night that the Reds were just totally dominated. Was it a bad effort by the visitors? I don’t believe so. Valencia’s coach Pedro Martinez had his players ready to go to make sure the EuroCup would be an all Spanish affair against Malaga.
2) Check out these stats. At the half, Jerusalem had committed 11 turnovers, 16 for the game and had only grabbed 9 rebonds by the end of the third quarter with 19 after 40 minutes, again most coming at a point when the contest was well done and long over. CRAZY! That’s just nuts! Where was Hapoel? Why didn’t Coach Simone Pianigiani call a time out in the 3rd quarter to stop the bleeding when the game was blown open? These are some serious questions that need to be answered. However, I believe the real answer is that Valencia was just a much better team.
3) Credit has to go to Coach Piangiani for guiding Hapoel Jerusalem to a superb EuroCup Season. The team excelled all season long in continental play, making it out of the two group stages that led them to the quarterfinals against Gran Canaria and the semifinals versus Valencia. He did an excellent job molding the team into a well oiled unit and a force in European play. He took owner Ori Allon’s vision and began implementing it. The loss may sting now, but when everyone looks back on the campaign, they will see that there was plenty to be proud about.
I’m debating about what to write here. Should I focus on the fact that I thought Hapoel Jerusalem was a bit overconfident and talked too much going into the game. Or should I bring up the fact that Hapoel has now lost their two most important games of the season, the State Cup Final to Maccabi Tel Aviv and Game 3 of the EuroCup Semifinals. Or perhaps we should look at what Coach Pianigiani had said which was to compete for all of the titles. He clearly stated that this was the goal. To be in the game and competition to the end and continue building off of that. Well, that’s exactly was Hapoel did. I think we have to look at it like this. Jerrells, Kinsey, Peterson and Stoudmeire were all upgrades on last year’s crew, so perhaps next season we will continue to see the team upgrading and upgrading until they are truly where they want to be which is in the Euroleague. Could the Reds still make it in for next season even though they didn’t win the EuroCup? It could happen because of the way the teams and countries are allocated into the competition. But ultimately, would Hapoel have really wanted to just enter the league for one year? Nope. They want to permanently be there. However, they must be consistent and be patient as the project continues on. If they keep going down this path, the sky’s the limit.