Hapoel Jerusalem thumped Hapoel Beer Sheva 85-68 to take game one of their best of five quarterfinal series. After a tight opening quarter, the host’s recorded a 28-9 second quarter to break open the game and cruise to the win. James Feldeine scored 21 points, Bar Timor dropped 13 points and Da’Sean Butler added 9 points for Jerusalem. Tanner Leissner led Beer Sheva with 14 points while Kerron Johnson and Chanan Colman each had 13 points in the loss.
After going 3+ minutes without a field goal, Travis Warech broke the ice with a 3-pointer for Beer Sheva but a trio of triples by James Feldeine gave Jerusalem an early 12-8 lead midway through the first quarter. Swing and Colman helped the visitor’s keep pace but Yogev Ohayon’s 4 points for the Reds allowed the hosts to take a 20-16 advantage after ten minutes.
Oded Katash’s squad ripped off a 9-1 run to start the second quarter forcing Beer Sheva Coach Rami Hadar to call a timeout after a J’Covan Brown layup. However, the break didn’t help the southern side as Bar Timor continued the Jerusalem attack to take a 48-25 lead into halftime.
Beer Sheva scored early and often to open the third quarter thanks to Colman’s hot hand to cut the Jerusalem lead to 52-36. Leissner then reduced the Jerusalem lead further but quick buckets by Butler, Feldeine, Eliyahu and Timor bumped it back up to 20 points as the hosts took a 69-49 advantage into the final frame.
When it looked like Jerusalem would cruise through the 4th quarter, Brown went off clutching his hand and Donaldson and Leissner cut the lead down to 75-61 midway through the final frame. But Feldeine and Tashawn Thomas put the hammer down to take the first game of the series 85-68.
1) Beer Sheva came to battle and battle they did…for the first quarter but once the game hit quarter number two, it was all Jerusalem as the Reds shut down Hadar’s squad making life fairly easy over the final twenty minutes. Sure Beer Sheva made a run or two but they never brought the game back to under a ten point deficit and that was that. “They were going to fight and we were ready for a fight,” explained Feldeine at the post game press conference. “We knew they would play aggressively and we took them off the offensive boards.” Katash also spoke about the effort his squad put in, “We played very well defensively in the first half but Beer Sheva fought hard and also had a run. We were able to stop them on the offensive boards which is a main stay of their team.”
2) Another key to the win was Jerusalem’s ability to shut down Jordan Swing, perhaps Beer Sheva’s most lethal scorer who went an abysmal 1/9 from the field and scored only 5 points. Without Swing being able to drop his shot, Hadar’s team has very little chance to win. Feldeine spoke about closing down their number one threat who only scored 5 points on the night, “He’s their best player and go to guy. He also leads the team in a lot of categories and that was a big point on our defensive schemes.” Rami Hadar also talked about how the Reds took care of Swing, “Jordan had decent shots but didn’t make them and I have to give credit to Oded Katash who had his players on top of him the whole game and made his life difficult.”
3) I spoke to Jordan Swing following the game and he felt that his poor shooting night was all on him, “It was tough especially for me as I didn’t play as well as I would have liked to. I think I had my open shots but I just wasn’t knocking them down. I think its mostly on me and I have to come out next time ready to play.” Did he feel that there was special attention paid to him? “I kind of felt that the second half of the season and it hasn’t stopped me before so I’m just going to keep on playing and my shots will fall. I got to my spots tonight but they just weren’t falling. I’ll keep shooting the same way and hopefully they fall next time.” Swing looked ahead to the second game in Beer Sheva as well, “Luckily it’s a 5 game series and we have another day to fight, we’ll come out Sunday ready to go.”
What will be the keys going into game two? Will Beer Sheva be able to come out strong and counter Jerusalem’s firepower? Swing spoke about what he feels his team will need to do, “We can’t have that mental lapse and there were 5-6 minutes where they just jumped out on us. If we can eliminate that we are in the game. Next game we have to concentrate and make sure they don’t go on any big runs.” Feldeine also felt that the next game will be a totally different story, “It will be a different game in Beer Sheva and they will sleep in their own beds. Hopefully, we will come out with energy.” Hadar also knows that if his team can’t take game 2 the series is all but over, “We have to really put on a show in Beer Sheva because that’s our real chance. We will have to be prepared to execute on the court and also be ready mentally.”
* J’Covan Brown ran off the court holding his hand in pain during the game and perhaps may have aggravated the injury he had already had. If Brown is out, will Malcolm Griffin make his Jerusalem debut? Katash, “J’Covan dislocated his finger and he will go to the doctor tomorrow. If he can’t play it’s possible that we will see Malcolm Griffin, but first we have to see what J’Covan’s status is. Griffin may play regardless of the situation.”
* On the Beer Sheva side, Taylor Braun has been absent for a while due to a leg injury. If he can come back and play, his presence will certainly be felt, “Since Taylor was injured the players have not played as well.”
* Bar Timor was a game changer today when he came off the bench as the last of the regular rotation players. When he entered the contest in the 2nd quarter, the Reds were up 22-16 and when he was subbed out his team was up by 17-points, 40-23. The guard scored 13 points in only 16 minutes and also picked up 3 steals. Timor hasn’t had an easy year, but when his number was called today, he did what everyone knew he was capable of.