Be Aggresive – Jerusalem battles to 107-105 OT win over Gilboa/Galil

Hapoel Jerusalem 107-105 Hapoel Gilboa Galil
Jerusalem needed overtime to dispose of Gilboa/Galil by two, 107-105 to take a 2-1 series lead in their next of five quarterfinal matchup. The host’s squandered a 19 point 3rd quarter lead as J’Covan Brown (13p) drained a game tying 3-pointer to send the contest to overtime. But Oded Katash’s squad’s depth was able to help the Reds to the win as Tarence Kinsey (14p) hit the winning free throws to get Jerusalem to within one win of the Final Four.

The host’s took a 3 point 24-21 lead after the 1st quarter as Bar Timor (15p) came out on fire with 14 points in the frame while Zach LeDay (29p) dropped 10 of his own to keep the visitor’s close in a rough and tumble start. The second quarter became even more physical which played right into Jerusalem’s hands as the Reds went into the break with a 14 point lead 51-37. Rich Howell (24p) and Ronald Roberts (16p) did the damage with 12 and 7 points respectively as 9 different players showed up on the scoresheet in the half as LeDay bumped up his game total to 19 after twenty minutes of play.

Jerusalem ran out to a 63-45 lead after the first five minutes of the 3rd quarter but Gilboa/Galil closed out the quarter strong with an 18-7 run thanks to Elijah Johnson’s (24p) 3 treys to cut the host’s lead to 70-63 with ten minutes remaining. However, Gilboa/Galil came all the back to tie up the game with 2.8 seconds on J’Covan Brown 3-pointer to send the game to overtime all knotted up at 96-96.

As the extra period went back and forth and Jerusalem in the lead, 103-105, Jerome Dyson (7p) purposely fouled D’Angelo Harrison (19p) with 12 seconds as the St. John’s product promptly drew his side even but gave the ball back to the host’s. Ben Altit (6p) then committed a foul after the inbounds pass, Kinsey drained both of his charity stripe shots giving Jerusalem the 107-105 lead which they were able to hold onto after Howell striped Brown of the ball in the closing seconds to hold onto the win. With a 2-1 series lead, Jerusalem will have a chance to advance to the Final Four on Tuesday when they travel up to Gan Ner for Game 4 at 8:30pm.

1) It always seems that the wind blows Jerusalem’s way when Rich Howell is on his game and the game 3 win was no exception. The big man stayed out of foul trouble early on, played 33 minutes and was able help his side to the victory scoring 24 points on 8/12 shooting (including 1/1 from long distance) 7/11 from the free throw line and stole the ball 4 times in an all around effort. But the biggest play of the game came on Gilboa/Galil’s last possession when he was able to grab the ball and ensure victory, “That was the only thing I was looking for as my head was going up and down all the way to the floor. I had to get it and the coach was yelling to force D’Angelo (Harrison) to the left so I had to stop him.”

2) One of the biggest keys for Jerusalem was being able to put aside the fact that they had given up a huge 19 point lead and gave up the game tying shot with 2.3 seconds to to. It wasn’t easy but credit went to the coaching staff according to Howell, “I give a lot of credit to our vets and the coaching staff as they did a good job keeping our heads in. When you’re up like that and then you go to overtime on something crazy it brings your spirits down. I’m glad we ave the vets and coaching staff that we got.” Number 14 also discussed what has happened to the team as the lead kept dwindling, “Gilboa is a strong team and we knew the game wasn’t over. When it got close we got a little nervous and didn’t know which way to go and took a step back. But that’s something we have to learn from.” Coach Oded Katash also spoke about how he was able to get his team to focus at one of the low moments of the matchup, “At the start of overtime, the players’ heads were down on the ground and I reminded them that it was a tie game and that they had to look forward and show character. We showed that character but I hope today we learned a lesson.

3) The 2nd quarter was one of the most physical frames I witnessed this season. Lots of hard fouls, unsportsmanlike fouls, aggressive play, in your face activity and more. It was similar to what we had seen in games 1 and 2 so in essence it was no surprise. Jerusalem hadn’t played this style of ball all season long and after the game 1 loss, it was clear that the message that Coach Katash sent to his players was exactly that; you’ll need to match their aggressiveness if you want to win this series. If you don’t you’ll be on the wrong side. Message received. Howell delved into this topic as well following the game, “It’s been good (to play aggressively) and I think that we should have been playing like this since the beginning of the year. We have aggressive guards and bigs and that should have been something we focussed on throughout the year.” Howell also looked to the challenge ahead in order to repeat as champions, “I still feel we are putting the pieces together and we’re still not there. We’re still trying to build that chemistry that right unit, everybody is still trying to find that rhythm but I feel that in the right time it will come together.”

There’s one thing that drives me crazy about European ball and that’s fouling on purpose when you’ve got the lead in order to get back the ball. In Jerusalem’s case they were up 105-103 and put Harrison on the line who promptly nailed his free throws. Gilboa/Galil’s mistake was when Altit then fouled Kinsey as the guard slashed to the basket. The veteran drained his two shots and the visitor’s cousins get a tying or winning shot off in the final seconds. On one hand, I totally understand why you want to foul in the situation. On the other, the thought of handing the opposition a chance to tie the game and not having any faith in your defense just rubs me the wrong way. I posted the question on Twitter and received in return to interesting comments. 1) A team that believes in itself wouldn’t do that type of nonsense and 2) A video of Gregg Popovich when asked about fouling when ahead sarcastically saying, “That’s a European question, right? We don’t.” I’d like to see more of that, please.

Hapoel Holon 87-81 Hapoel Eilat
Holon took a 2-1 series lead over Eilat in their best of 5 quarterfinal tilt with game 4 scheduled for Tuesday night down south. Jordan Hamilton (23p/10r) and Joe Alexander (21p) did most of the damage for the host’s while Eric Griffin (30p) had a monster night as Jordan Loyd added 16 points for Eilat in the loss.

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