Holon readies for AEK, Jerusalem prepares for Tenerife in BCL action

Mar 5, 2024 | Holyland Hoops

Hapoel Holon and Hapoel Jerusalem are both heading in European action as they get back to Basketball Champions League play after an almost month long break for various Cup tournaments and the international window.

Holon will visit AEK in Athens on Tuesday (20:45 Israel time) as the look to better their 1-2 record good for 3rd place in the Round of 16 Group Stage but Amit Sherf’s squad will be shorthanded for the clash with a number of key players on the shelf due to injuries that have ravaged the team. AEK sits in last place in the 4-team group with a 0-3 record as they look to notch their first win but without the likes of Netanel Artzi, Shawn Dawson, Justin Smith and CJ Harris there is no doubt that the purples will need to dig deep to find the resources to take the win.

“We are heading to the game in Athens with a different squad than the one we beat them with a month ago. We will have to bring the same commitment and concentration on defense in order to control the pace and prevent them from getting into a flow on the attack. For AEK this is their last chance to try and stay in the race for a quarterfinal spot and Mindaugas Kuzminskas will be available after returning from injury.”

“Management has done everything to field the best squad considering the amount of injuries that we have been experiencing over the these past few weeks. We will do everything to win and get to next week’s game with the chance to advance to the next level.”

Jerusalem will take on Tenerife on Wednesday (22:00) as the Reds will look to improve their perfect record to 4-0 in the Canary Islands while the hosts would like to very much exact some revenge on the 85-61 beating that they took the last time the two teams played.

In order to make sure that Jerusalem comes in focused with the goal of clinching a spot in the quarterfinals, head coach Ilias Kantzouris knows full well what the secret to their success will be.

“The most important thing has to do with the mentality,” the bench boss began. “We want compete and try to win no matter who the opponent is and the circumstances and that is what we need to do. We have to impose what we want to do, the rhythm of the game, playing through our defense and trying to put in a solid performance showing that we are improving as a team.”

Yovel Zoosman gave his thoughts on the upcoming clash, “We have to come very aggressive into the game like the first one as this one is very important. Tenerife is not going to give us anything so we will take a look at the video and try to cut down their attack like we did last game.”

Jerusalem guard Speedy Smith also spoke about the challenge ahead, “This is what the BCL is all about and we will go into an intense environment. It will be fun and exciting with the pressure which is what it’s supposed to be. They have a very good roster up to par with the Euroleague but if we go in with the right mindset and keep to the game plan we should be ok.”

“Energy is really important but teamwork, sense of urgency and concentration will be very important against a very good team,” Kantzouris said. “Every mistake we may make, Tenerife is capable of punishing us. We are talking about a very good team and they have proved how good a club they are and the potential they have as well as what are their strengths. We have to go there with a mindset that this a final and if we think that just because we are 3-0 we will be in trouble.”

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