In a game that was never in doubt. Hapoel Jerusalem downed Hapoel Holon 97-75 to punch their ticket to the Winner Cup Final on Sunday night (9pm) at the Drive In Arena. The Reds controlled the tempo right from the outset as Speedy Smith set the tone early and Levi Randolph scored at will to cruise to the victory.
Randolph led the way with 23 points, Brynton Lemar added 15 points and Or Cornelius chipped in with 14 points to take the win. Amine Noua scored 16 points, Justin Smith added 13 points and Shawn Dawson scored 12 points in the loss.
“We wanted to play in the final of the Winner Cup which we will in the next couple of days,” Jerusalem bench boss Aleksandar Dzikic said. “The game was the way we were expecting it to be with a spread formation and it’s super hard to cover guys who are shooters and with three ISO players. We were shooting well and getting open shots and making them. I saw things I didn’t like but those things are fixable.
Dzikic also spoke about not having Khadeen Carrington available as they wait to see if he will receive Israeli citizenship, “Our goal was to play our first game in the Israeli league and BCL without injuries, however we had some guys that were sick. I have players that are going from position to position and I am very patient with them. As for Carrington, concerned is not the right term, I’m more upset but we are trying to do what we can do. It’s the first time in my career that I have to plan when my best player can’t play which is super hard.”
“We have to work on our possessions and the game shouldn’t have ended the way it did with such a huge gap,” Holon coach Amit Sherf began. “We gave up some points near the end that really finished off the game. Our issue was not the rebounds but the shooting percentages as we didn’t defend well enough. We had some problems with their pick and roll in the fourth quarter as well which allowed Jerusalem to score some easy points.”
Or Cornelius reflected on the win, “It was a game with a lot of ups and downs, we saw what we were doing well and what we need to work on and we have plenty to do going forward. We’re happy that Brynton Lemar had a good game and that shows we have a rotation where everyone can just go off and we also saw Randolph really play well also.”
Netanel Artzi picked up an injury during the game and spoke about his status as well as the club following the game, “My foot is ok, but I sprained it a bit during the game. This was a good preseason game for us and we were able to come together as a team. We are working on some things. We will be ok going forward and we have a good fan base that will support us as we grow.”
Speedy Smith and Or Cornelius got Hapoel Jerusalem rolling from downtown while Shawn Dawson and Amine Noua tried to keep Hapoel Holon close but a dunk by Yovel Zoosman and a 4-point play by Brynton Lemar gave the Reds a 21-13 lead after ten minutes of play.
Netanel Artzi got the second quarter started with points but Levi Randolph, Chris Johnson and another Smith 3-pointer quickly bumped the Jerusalem lead up to double digits while Oz Blayzer and Randolph went from downtown again and Hankins scored at will to give Aleksandar Dzikic’s team a 47-32 advantage at halftime.
Holon began chipping away at the lead with baskets by Smith, Dawson, Noua and CJ Harris, Blayzer and Hankins countered, Yotam Hanochi started to score but Randolph and Lemar found points to keep the Reds in front 65-50 after thirty minutes of action.
Randolph, Johnson and Lemar all scored to begin the fourth quarter, Dawson and Harris tried to keep Amit Sherf’s squad relevant with a triple, but Gaby Chachashvili with a jumper, Cornelius with a 3-pointer and Lemar from the inside and outside sent Jerusalem into the finals.