Hapoel Jerusalem downed Hapoel Eilat 93-80 in WINNER Cup quarterfinal play as the curtain was pulled down on domestic basketball action for the foreseeable future. The Reds dominated play from the tip and never looked back as Tamir Blatt, Deividas Sirvidis, Malcolm Hill along with Tarik Phillip picked up the slack for the short roster to take the win just ahead of Israel’s lockdown.
Blatt led the way with 15 points and 11 assists, Hill added 11 points and 8 rebounds, Sirvidis checked in with 15 points and Phillip chipped in with 13 points, 6 boards and 4 helpers in the win. veteran Jonathan Skoljebrand scored 16 points for Eilat while Joe Ragland added 14 points and 6 assists while Markel Brown checked in with 13 points in the defeat.
1) Tamir Blatt continues to look better, and better and better. The guard was once again stellar in his WINNER performance with 4 triples in 25+ minutes of play. He will be counted on even more now that J’Covan Brown is out of action for the time being and it seems that he os ready for the challenge ahead of him during these trying times as the club gets ready to head to Greece on Saturday, “We are coming together as a team and we will do the best that we can. The current situation isn’t easy especially as we are back playing basketball, it’s not easy to hear what’s going on. It’s upsetting and disappointing but we will do what we need to in order to focus as best as we can as we head to Athens. It’s going to be very hard and we are going to play a very good Spanish team. We will do the best that we can.”
2) The injury bug has hit Jerusalem is a big, big way. J’Covan Brown is out indefinitely, Luka Mitrovic has a right ankle issue, Adam Ariel was out, Adi Cohen Saban is a bit whacked up and then Tashawn went for a trifecta as Oded Katash explained, “Tashawn broke a tooth, opened up a gash on eyebrow and hurt his Achilles on all the same play which is something I have never seen before. This was just the case of some bad luck and I really hope it’s not serious. We didn’t want to risk him and that’s why he didn’t play the second half.” Now the club sent out a message today that Tashawn is fine and will be good to go for Burgos. Hopefully that is accurate and there is no question that Thomas will do everything in his power to play but as they say, time will tell.
3) I asked Coach Katash about how he feels about the team going into the Final 8 and a date with San Pablo Burgos on Wednesday. His answer was definitely concerning, “I can’t say that we are coming in at our peak but after the summer we had compared to Burgos and other teams in the Final 8 who began training a month earlier than us who are already playing in their third league game have an advantage on us. That doesn’t mean to say that we won’t go there and play well. I would say that we are slight underdogs but we’ve been there before and know how to handle these types of situations. We have a few days to get Pappas into the swing of things so he can play some minutes.”
Jerusalem signed Chris Kramer this past week to replace the injured J’Covan Brown and then they inked Nikos Pappas for the FINAL 8. Why did the club sign both? What is going on? There have been numerous reports that have come out, but I’ll say this to the Reds, KEEP KRAMER! He’s a leader and a winner, get him game ready and run with him, you won’t be sorry. Make sure you check out the latest Holy Land Hoops show where I speak with Lukas Feldhaus about what the Purdue product brings to the table. Here’s what Coach Katash said about the situation, “It’s still not clear and an official team statement hasn’t been released so I can’t say much about the situation. When he arrived he wasn’t in the shape we thought he was going to be in and that’s why we decided not to register him yet and we certainly don’t want to put him at risk because he’s not in shape. We have to wait and I really don’t know what the situation is as it’s above me between the agent and player. We should be able to update you in the next few days.”