Nahariya defeated Hapoel Jerusalem up north 97-90 thanks to a well rounded offensive effort by the host’s and timely second quarter defense to take the relegation battle victory against an inconsistent Jerusalem side. Alex Young scored 21 points, Anthony Barber added 17 as Yiftah Ziv’s well rounded effort contributed 15 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds in the win. Jerome Dyson dropped 27 points and grabbed 9 boards while Tarence Kinsey scored 15 points and pulled down 8 rebounds while Ronald Roberts added 12 points in the loss.
After a huge scoring 34-27 first quarter which saw Jerusalem take 1 7 point lead into the second frame, Nahariya locked down on defense while scoring at will including a killer 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer by Stu Douglass to give the host’s a 53-44 as they never looked back to take the 97-90 win.
1) Jerusalem looked fantastic on the offensive side of the ball after ten minutes as Kinsey nailed his shots as did Jerome Dyson, but the did however, give up 27 points. From there the wheels fell off and it was all downhill for the Reds. Ronald Roberts spoke about just that after the game, “We didn’t play up to our capabilities today. We had a great first quarter and then it sunk from there. I’m not sure what happened as I was too in the moment.” Head Coach Oded Katash added his sentiments as well, “We only played well offensively as we gave up 27 points and 53 for the half. We spoke about it before the game and at the half but we weren’t aggressive enough on defense. It’s not the first time this has happened and we can’t go into a game saying everything will be ok. Once Nahariya gained confidence they were able to play their game.” Kalin Lucas also chimed in, “Once you give a team confidence they feed off of that. I think when they hit that three at the buzzer, it gave them momentum into the second half and they played well. You’ve got to give them credit.”
2) Nahariya was playing for their Winner League lives and they know that with just three games remaining in the regular season coupled with a Haifa loss on Friday they had to find a way to win the game. With the thought of heading down to Ashdod on Thursday and then a tricky home game against Hapoel Tel Aviv, Coach Arik Alfasi must have looked at Jerusalem without both Rich Howell and Stratos Perperologou as a winnable game. But in fact they didn’t focus on the visitor’s but on themselves, “We didn’t talk at all about Hapoel Jerusalem but about ourselves and how we had to be mentally strong. I’m happy that we were able to stay together even when they brought our lead down to just a few points.” One of the Nahariya stars Yiftah Ziv said almost the identical words, “We have been talking about how we have to look at ourselves and how we are playing. We can take care of business ourselves and not worry about the other teams.” Alfasi ended his press conference talking about what the relation battle means, “No one wants to have the stigma that they were on a team that was relegated. It’s very important for me personally as it’s my third season here and I don’t want to be in the second division next year. I will do everything in my power to keep this team in the first league.”
3) Katash was certainly disappointed in his team’s display and is definitely concerned about their inconsistency. One good game followed by a bad one and then another good one and then yet again another subpar performance, “We spoke about how we never seem to come to the next game properly after a big win. We played a good game against Eilat and then we didn’t come in focused enough to this one as we have to in every game and at every arena.” Lucas added his thoughts, “We had to come in and fight, stick to the game plan and they outplayed us.” Katash had the last word on the matter, “Although we were missing two rotation players the others had to come more focused and they didn’t. We will continue to battle. Every team has their pros and cons and this is our issue. All the players and coaching staff know that this is the issue and we have to come into every match ready to go.” Consistency, consistency, consistency. That’s the name of the game and without it Jerusalem will be in trouble heading into the playoffs.
Last game Hapoel played without Dyson, Howell and Perperologou but easily dismantled Eilat thanks to superb performances by veterans Lior Eliyahu and Yotam Halperin. But at Nahariya the pair reverted back what we have been used to seeing this season scoring a combined 10 points which would just not be enough. Roberts spoke about stepping up, “We didn’t have either of them (Howell & Perperologou) last game and we won, but they are key parts of the team and it showed today. Guys go down and other guys have to step up but we didn’t do that today.” Nahariya took advantage of that as Ziv mentioned by using one more player over the course of the game, “We had a big rotation in the first half and we were able to get most of the players into the action which benefited us later on.” And benefit it certainly did as Nahariya took the win and Jerusalem continued to be mired in inconsistent mediocrity.