Hapoel Jerusalem 78-85 Hapoel Gilboa/Galil
The visitor’s took the lead early on and went into halftime with a 10 point, 49-39 advantage thanks to a well balanced attack and fine play by Tal Karples (16p) off of the bench. D’Angelo Harrison (14p), J’Covan Brown (22p) and Zach LeDay (22p/10r) all contributed to Ariel Beit Halachmi’s side. Rich Howell’s fine play with 13 points (17p) and Ronald Roberts 11 points (12p) kept the Jerusalem Reds in the game after 20 minutes. However, the second half was more of the same as Gilboa/Galil held serve throughout the final two quarters as Brown and LeDay continued to befuddle the Jerusalem defense to take home the 7 point win. Game 2 will take place on Friday at 16:00 in Gan Ner.
Hapoel Holon 89-83 Hapoel Eilat
Jordan Hamilton (28p), Tu Holloway (23p) and Joe Alexander (20p) led the attack for Holon in their 6-point, 89-83 win over Hapoel Eilat at home to take a 1-0 lead in their quarterfinal best of 5 series. Jordan Loyd scored 24 points while Eric Griffin dropped 17 points in the loss for the visiting Eilat side. Demetrius Treadwell finished the night with 5 points in under 20 minutes due to an injury and is questionable for game 2 on Friday afternoon at 13:20 in Eilat.
1) Gilboa/Galil came to Jerusalem with one mission in mind; to win game 1 of their playoff series. And win they did. Ariel Beit Halachmi’s players came out with tons of energy, passion and desire and it showed even before tipoff as the players chest thumped, clapped hands and gave each other high fives. There wasn’t a ball that the visitor’s didn’t dive for or a shot that went uncontested. It was one for all and all for one for Hapoel Gilboa/Galil as the players all seemed focused on the goal at hand, win one game at a time and Zach LeDay spoke about that to me following the game, “Big win, but now we have to move onto the next game. We feel good but nothing’s been accomplished yet. To us the series is 0-0 and it’s time to move onto the next game. We just have to play hard, play defense, run the floor and help my teammates and we’ll win.” As I said, one for all and all for one.
2) Ariel Beit Halachmi’s players, both Israelis and foreigners practiced during the strike and it certainly had a positive effect just as it did on Maccabi Tel Aviv the day before. They seemed to play with much more fluidity and rhythm than Jerusalem who were just flat all night long. Their shooting was way off, open shots missed by both Tarence Kinsey (2/10) and Jerome Dyson (4/16) who expressed after the game that normally those shots would hit the target but just didn’t go in. Was it a lack of practice time? Watching Oded Katash’s team on Sunday dismantle an overmatched Nes Ziona may have perhaps had a negative effect on the team thinking that this game would just be a repeat, which of course they found out it was not.
3) The other thing that Jerusalem has to keep in mind is that the 2017/18 version isn’t the same as the 2016/17 one. Yes, there are some of the same players but there are some who are no longer a part of the squad including Curtis Jerrells and Amare Stoudemire. And those are two very big players. Dyson talked about going down 0-1 in the series and how that they had the same experience last year, but he’s got to remember this team is different. You can’t just switch it on or off, sports just don’t work that way. Different year, different season, different team and different opponent.
I asked Beit Halachmi and Tal Karples what was spoken about prior to the game between the players and staff and both said that they would only discuss that following the series. The coach even apologized to me afterwards for not wanting to answer and I’m sure there is a good reason. Gilboa/Galil has had Jerusalem’s number this season and they know it. They also are well aware that the need to take this series one game at a time. I asked the coach what the key will be to winning at home on Friday afternoon and he said, “Don’t be insulted, but to just score one more point than Jerusalem.” Simply put he doesn’t care how or by how much his team will win but as long as they do by scoring at least one more point than Jerusalem. That’s the most important thing. There’s a plan and his players have bought in. One for all and all for one.