1) Jerusalem came out flying, like a house on fire and no one, and I mean no one was going to beat them on this night. The Reds started the game aggressive on both sides of the floor and there was no question who wanted to win more. Oded Katash’s squad blitzed Rishon Le’Zion from the get go, shocking the wine city’s team. It was a knockout, first round, done. “I’m proud as to how we played today,” said Katash. “It was great and the fans were incredible. We had no choice but to give 100%. We started the game well and we were able to take the game to where we wanted it to go.” Nimrod Levi, who scored 7 points in 16 minutes also spoke about the keys to victory, “Our aggressiveness and defense was the difference maker at the end of the day and allowed us to have an easier time on offense.” Darryl Monroe said Rishon was a bit surprised as to how Jerusalem got going, “They were the better team and punched us in the mouth, they deserved it. They just came out stronger I don’t think we came out with enough energy. They attacked us and threw us off.”
2) As well as Jerusalem played, there have been games where they just didn’t play the way that they are capable of. Versus Rishon, that was definitely not a problem explained Katash, “Our job is to get the players to play this way all the time but we know it’s not always possible. I count on my players and there aren’t many chances to win a title.” With not many opportunities to win a title, Katash has kept his players focused on the task at hand by advancing to the final, “We have done well putting us into the position to win and we have to play well. We want to have our players as ready as possible.” Nimrod Levi said that the club has to come in with the same effort in order to complete the job, “We have to come into the game on Thursday with the same energy as we all want to win the game and do what we need to do to make that happen. It’s fun to be on the court in these types of games.” Finally, Idan Zalmanson who has been rock solid this week had this to say, “As soon as it’s a knockout there aren’t any favorites like I said yesterday. We were able to come into the game properly and take the win. We were very focused and we won’t celebrate and we will now prepare for Nahariya.”
3) It seems that when John Holland gets going, the going gets good and Jerusalem rolls along. Some games when Holland doesn’t get off to that hot start, the Reds sputter and lose. Against Rishon Holland led the way with 15 points going 5/9 from the field which are very similar his numbers in continental play. Look at Holland’s five Champions League appearances which were all wins where he scored 17 (6/11), 25 (8/10), 18 (7/11), 5 (2/6), 11 (4/7) points. The games where he gets his 10-11 shots end up being big offensive games while the last two have to be looked at a bit differently as the 5 point game was a hard fought battle with Burgos and the final contest was a game that Coach Katash split minutes up with nothing to play for. In Israeli league play his numbers are much impressive in points, 9 (3/5), 19 (3/6), 0 (0/5), 0 (0/3), 2 (1/6) with three of the five games being losses. When Holland gets his shots he gets going and the team reaps the benefits. I asked about that but Katash didn’t want to go anywhere near the idea that he wanted to get Holland going early, “Holland adds a lot with his shooting and also his defensive work. We don’t decide before hand who is going to get the shots, but he got off to a good start and we went from there. Some cases we don’t know how the defense will react and we have to see how things will play out.” Sorry coach I don’t buy it. When Holland gets off to a good start the team does as well. I can’t see how Katash didn’t want Holland to shoot early and shoot often.
Speaking of John Holland he also put off the idea that he was slated to get the ball early, “I don’t let my shots going in or missing to dictate the way I play. I always bring energy regardless. I try and be consistent in my energy and I hope that this will bring consistency in my game.” He sure enjoyed the team’s performance, “It was a good game but we still have one more to finish the job. It’s a big game, but it’s also just another game and I have to approach the same way. Stay consistent and prepare the same way and get the same result.” Jerusalem will be looked at as heavy favorites in the final but Holland wanted to have nothing of it, “We can’t look at it as if we are the favorites. We have to look at it as we have an opponent that we have to respect. It doesn’t matter who.” The Bronx, New York native was able to watch the Jerusalem Cup documentary from last year as well, “That was really cool to see especially not being here and seeing them go through it and how the things transpired. It was really nice to see it and it was a treat.” However, the bottom line is that Holland wants to make his own history, “It’s a great opportunity and atmosphere and something we can look back and be a part of history, that’s the goal.”