“Great players make great plays at the end of games” Jerusalem shows mettle in late comeback win over Haifa

Nov 21, 2021 | Holyland Hoops

Hapoel Jerusalem showed some serious mettle in their win over Hapoel Haifa having gone down 72-68 with 5:22 left in the game after having led handily throughout the first 34+ minutes of the contest. But all of sudden it began to rain 3’s as Jalen Adams, Adam Ariel, Retin Obasohan and Ariel once again all drilled home triples to retake the lead and race off a 21-5 run to end the game and snatch the 89-77 win that has looked very shaky as time wound down.

It was a key moment for the Reds after having lost to Bnei Herzliya last week. They wanted to get back to their winning ways despite having what one would call an unbalanced roster and that is what they did under interim head coach Yotam Halperin who is looking more and more like a full time head coach as the days and weeks pass by. The players like him and so far no one can argue about his success as he is most definitely a “players coach”.

Adam Ariel – Photo Credit: Basket.co.il

“We’ve been clicking as you can see,” Anthony Bennett said following the game. “We have been getting a lot more open looks and lot more open shots. We’re hungry, not to say we weren’t before. But the system gives us a lot more freedom and space for our guards to work and our bigs to pop and roll and create.”

The creating was done primarily by the guards over the course of the first half with Obasohan and Adams handling the majority of the scoring for Halperin who is well aware that changes must happen to his roster if they want to be able to compete for the available titles throughout the season.

“We are looking for that balance and the points weren’t split up the way we wanted it to be. We did know though that if they would be good we would be very hard to play against. “

However, the turning point was what was said during the break in action when Jerusalem found themselves in a hole Adams explained, “Coach told us to focus on our defense and that we had to get stops consistently, That’s when we saw our lead build. Once our defense is there, our offense will be fine.”

Jalen Adams and Amit Simhon – Photo Credit: Basket.co.il

Jerusalem’s defense was certainly very good over those final few minutes but the other key was stopping Amit Simhon who can go off for a ton of points if he gets going. “We know they have a lot of good scorers,” Adams continued. “And if we could cut down one or two of them then good things would happen.”

Haleprin agreed wholeheartedly, “We knew that once Amit and Spencer Weisz wouldn’t get into the game we would be ok. “The guys did a good job and that was very critical for us. They have some very good players and Vargas also didn’t get into the game well. Once we stop 1-2 key players we are a much better team.”

Elad Hasin saw this game as a missed opportunity and mentioned that they were missing center Egor Nestrenko who could have caused problems down low as well as when Jerusalem switched on defense and while he would have been happy to have a better game out of Simhon that wasn’t the reason Haifa lost the game.

Elad Hasin – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

“Amit was good against Rishon but he wasn’t that good today, we tried to get him into the game, but it just wasn’t meant to be. That’s the beauty of basketball. We have to find a way to win as a team if one player or another isn’t playing well. We because of our defense and not the offense. Giving up 21 points over the last five minutes is just way, way too much.”

However, Hasin also recognized that his team had to make sure to stop one of Israel’s most lethal 3-point shooters who has broken many heart over the years.

“At the end of the game we didn’t have that experience and focus that we needed as we gave up a pair of triples to Adam Ariel. We knew that he is a clutch shooter plus the big baskets by Adams and Obasohan. We held them to ten 3-poiners deep into the fourth quarter but they ended up with 14 and they hit four as the game wound down. Great players make great plays at the end of games.”

Adam Ariel – Photo Credit: Basket.co.il

While Halperin may only be a rookie interim head coach, he definitely has a good view of the landscape as having been a former player himself understanding that he can only do so much while the players are the ones who have to perform on the court.

“The coach has a part but ultimately the players have to execute and they did so very well. There are ups and downs and we have to keep consistency throughout the game. The guys stepped up in the second half and in the last quarter when they (Haifa) took a four point lead. We stayed calm and we knew how to make the right plays and our defense made the stops.”

Photo Credit: Basket.co.il

Now it’s on to the National Team break which will see some of Jerusalem’s players heading abroad including Bennett, Obasohan while Ariel, Itay Segev and Amit Gershon will join up with the Blue & White which will leave Halperin with a skeleton squad for a couple of weeks as he continues to retools the team and tries to work on improving the squad he has at his disposal.

“It’s not simple when you have to release so many players to their national teams but we will do what we can as best as we can to make sure that the time is used wisely whether it’s video or skills.”

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