Chris Kramer held court on the basketball court following Hapoel Jerusalem’s 88-80 victory over Bnei Herzliya. In fact, it was Kramer’s first time back playing in a competitive game since February 7th when he came up a bit limp in the Galilee against Hapoel Gilboa Galil. With the wonders of modern technology Kramer was back and better than ever just 41 days later as he raced around the Herzliya floor without a worry as he dove for balls, made his way between defenders and sliced his way to the hoop as if nothing had ever happened.
The Purdue Boilermakers product arrived in Jerusalem back in September right before the Champions League Final 8, but it took a bit of time for Kramer to get into the groove and make an impact on his new team. The Reds have had a lot of ups and downs this season with unfortunately a number of real downers hen they were knocked out of the Champions League, Balkan League and Israel State Cup. Now there’s just one thing to play for, the Israeli league championship and the guard is going to make sure that he along with the rest of the team do their utmost with coach Dainius Adomaitis to challenge for the title.
“I think as a team we need to make a decision and I think this is a great first step,” Kramer who scored 9 points, dished out 5 assists and played 24 minutes, said. “After the Haifa game we said we will either fold it up and go through the motions and just live with the results and half ass it, or are we gonna come out and play like the first 25 minutes against Herzliya and leave it on the court and live with the results that way. If we come and leave it all on the court I can live with the results personally.”
Kramer is never one to mince words and that is why he excelled in Germany, Lithuania and Russia; because he cares. Not only does he care, he wants all of his teammates to care as well as he understands full well what it takes to be a professional.
“We gave everything we have. Maybe a team is better that night or we miss shots or whatever it may be, but if we don’t play hard and give everything we can then we’re doing ourselves a disservice, the club a disservice, the fans a disservice and everyone a disservice. At the end of the day this is our livelihood, and if we don’t win games, salary wise you’re gonna take a hit it’s just the harsh reality of it and we as professionals need to do everything we can to win games. Everybody’s role may change it may be somebody’s night one night and not the next, but as a team we have to be ok with that. Winning is good enough. Winning makes everyone look good. That’s the biggest thing we need to take.”
The floor general spoke the truth that everyone in the Hapoel Jerusalem lockerroom has got to get on the same page from A to Z. When coach Oded Katash left, his departure also effected many of the players in the lockerroom, because of the relationship that had been built over the past few years. Trust was immaculate and the players and coach were like family. With coach Dainius Adomaitis coming in, those growing pains have been extremely evident, but maybe, just maybe, the players are finally over the hump. The bench looked more than active throughout the 40 minutes as the team perhaps has finally moved on and now understands the harsh reality of the business as Kramer so succinctly put it, “At the end of the day this is our livelihood, and if we don’t win games, salary wise you’re gonna take a hit it’s just the harsh reality of it and we as professionals need to do everything we can to win games.”
Felt great to be back out on the court tonight with my guys!! We gotta be better at playing with a lead and closing the game but, nonetheless, it was a good win. See y’all on Thursday in the arena!! #YallaHapoel
— Chris Kramer (@C_K_3) March 21, 2021
The past few weeks have been rough for Kramer as he hasn’t been able to get onto the court and help his team due to the minor surgery to clean up the meniscus. Every competitor wants to be out there to help his team and when you’re sidelined there is a feeing of helplessness because you just can’t.
“Especially when your team is going through such a rough patch. Not being able to be out there and help your team win was really tough. My job was to get healthy as fast as I can and get healthy as fast as I can to help. I was happy to be out here tonight to help our team win. The game was way closer than it needed to be. At the end of the day just glad we won.”
Yes, the game was much closer than it should have been but that was due to Jerusalem’s own doing as they blew a 32 points lead and saw it evaporate to just 4. But that is when Kramer came up huge for his club with a crucial layup and using his leadership to make sure that the hosts wouldn’t get any closer.
“We lost focus and let them get confidence. Max Heiderger hit a couple shots, they got offensive rebounds and scored easy. We let them feel good and offensively we played like crap. We have to be better. To end the game it comes down to being solid defensively and getting the offensive rebound and just executing on offense. We have to learn how to finish a game.”
“I believe in the guys. You see how we played for the first 25 minutes with high energy, high tempo, high intensity basketball. We crashed the glass we played great defense, we got out on transition and we got easy shots and layups. That’s what we have to do, hang our hat on our defense and let our offense come with our defense.”
Defense is the name of the game for sure and Kramer knows full well that a good defense will translate into a good offense which is also what coach Adomaitis would like to see. There’s no question that the two, Kramer and Adomaitis have common goals going forward and that should be no surprise as the pair collaborated together at Rytas Vilnius.
This is absolutely adorable!! My heart is melted!! ❤️❤️❤️ https://t.co/g7bqTpOWfG
— Chris Kramer (@C_K_3) March 21, 2021
“Chris was perfect,” Adomaitis said. “He provides leadership, he’s really loud so everyone knows what we are doing defensively and he organized the game good.”
After a job well done back on the court, Kramer will need a bit of a breather after not having having played since the start of February but all in all he was content int his effort in helping Jerusalem grab the win, “I’m tired right now. We don’t play again until Thursday so some time to recover, but you know I felt great out there. I put a lot do work in these 5 weeks to get to this point. Still some room to improve condition wise but this is a good first step.”
It was more like an excellent first step as it seems that this is now Chris Kramer’s team. He is the undisputed leader now going forward as J’Covan Brown will be out indefinitely. Jerusalem will go as far as Kramer can take them and with his track record, there’s no doubt that the next few months will be a fun ride all the way to the postseason.