“I play to win” Jamil Wilson propels Jerusalem to 90-81 Cup win over Eilat – Plus Brown & Thomas’s status & more

Hapoel Jerusalem defeated Hapoel Eilat 90-81 to advance to the quarterfinals of the Israel State Cup. After an even first quarter, the Reds broke the game open in the second frame on fine play by Chris Kramer and Tashawn Thomas to take the lead for good and punch their ticket to the next round of the knockout tournament. 

Kramer led the way with 19 points, Suleiman Briamoh and Thomas added 16 points while Jamil Wilson who was making his capital city debut chipped in with 14 points in the win. Josh Nebo led the way for Eilat with 22 points and 9 rebound as Casey Prather and Joe Ragland each scored 21 points for Ariel Beit Halachmi’s team in the loss. 

Chris Kramer – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Hapoel Jerusalem’s Chris Kramer glided into the Eilat paint for a layup, Tamir Blatt hit an effortless 3-pointer and Tashawn Thomas put in points to get the first quarter underway while Josh Nebo countered for the visitors. Suleiman Braimoh and Thomas continued to score for the Reds but Nebo put down a pair of dunks and Joe Ragland scored in the paint as the frame ended all even at 20-20. 

J’Covan Brown hooked up with Thomas inside, Casey Prather matched him at the other end but Kramer nailed a triple to put Jerusalem ahead 31-28 midway through the second quarter. Thomas beat the shot clock, Kramer scored another 3-pointer and Jamil Wilson dropped his first points for Oded Katash’s crew as Jerusalem took a 48-39 lead into halftime.

Suleiman Braimoh – Photo Credit: Oded Carni

Braimoh, Kramer and Adam Ariel got the third quarter underway with points forcing Eilat coach Ariel Beit Halachmi to call a timeout to settle his troops. Thomas and Jonathan Skoljebrand traded buckets, Idan Zalmanson put down a big time dunk and added his patented jumper from the top of the key while Wilson went from downtown. But points by Casey Prather and a full court shot at the end of the frame by Ragland kept Eilat hanging around as the Reds stayed in front 66-58.

Wilson drilled home another 3-pointer and a baseline turnaround fadeaway jumper while Briamoh added points in the paint but Prather quickly pulled Eilat to within 6 points, 74-68 with 6:24 remaining in the fourth quarter. 

Prather hit a corner triple to get Eilat to minus 5 but Braimoh matched him at the other end while an unsportsmanlike foul by Prather led to Tamir Blatt free throws and buckets by Braimoh and Kramer to bump the lead back up to 14 points, 85-71 with 4:33 to go. Ragland kept Eilat’s slim hopes alive from deep as did Prather but Kramer hit a 3-pointer to ice the 90-81 victory. 

Joe Ragland – Photo Credit: Oded Carni IBBA


It’s never easy to switch mindsets from a regular league game to a knockout cup clash

That’s what Jerusalem had to do in the second quarter to make sure they didn’t find themselves on the outside looking in after a 20-20 first frame. The Reds took their time to get into the game but once they did they knew exactly what they had to do in order for Eilat not to become a Cinderella story. “Most of the preparation on the mental side was to just remind the players that this game was a “Must” win,” said Reds Coach Oded Katash. “We’ve played a bunch of teams that weren’t up tp the level of Eilat, not to put down any of those clubs and I was concerned that they would play like it was just another league game.” Katash’s concerns of course were more than legitimate as he didn’t want to see his team fall into a trap and get knocked out after winning the last two Cups. Following the game, Tashawn Thomas was very succinct in his thoughts on the win, “Always feels good to move on and get a win when you need it.”

Jamil Wilson – Photo Credit: Josh Halickman

Jamil Wilson made a terrific debut for the Reds

Katash’s new forward didn’t look one bit out of place after just taking in part in a few practices. Jerusalem was able to sign Wilson after his former team Roma ceased operations and Katash was able to bring in a versatile player who can step in at the small forward and power forward positions and also play the stretch 4 very nicely. “It’s true that I usually play with two bigs,” Katash explained. “But I have been successful some seasons with a stretch 4 like when I had Landon Milbourne and Dion Dowell. Jamil will give us size defensively and space and that is what we are expecting from him. I like his approach.” Tashawn Thomas is familiar with Wilson from the past, “I played him in Italy so I wasn’t surprised with how he played. He’s a good player. He will play the 3 and 4 but he will have to learn the 3 more because the way we play.”  As for which position Wilson likes to play he said, “I like to play in between the four lines. When I am out there it doesn’t matter. Whether it’s the 3 or the 4 they are numbers and I don’t get caught up in them. I did that at a young age and it diverted me success wise but as you get older you find out that the most important thing is being on the court. I want to help these guys win and I’ll do to the best of my ability to do so.”

Jamil Wilson – Photo Credit: Josh Halickman

How did Wilson fit in seamlessly into Jerusalem?

“I’m not surprised at all. I play to win. This team plays to win and they put me in positions to have an  MVP game I wouldn’t be able to do it without the rest of the guys. I came here to do what I do best and I did what I do best. These guys are welcoming, the coaching staff and management, everyone is helpful. It’s easy when you come in a warm situation.” As for his relationship with coach Oded Katash, Wilson hit it off right away, “Coach is a cool dude. He is a good guy he knows his stuff and was a high level player so when someone like him is the coach it’s easy he makes things easy for you as a player. He understands the ups and downs of the game. Playing for a fine man like him makes everything all the better.” Wilson had a nice pair of Kobe’s on, in fact the Kobe 5 Protro Big Stage and he spoke about what he thinks about his kicks, “Kobe shoes are awesome. I usually write my sons name on my shoes. I got a lot of shoes. I’m not a sneakerhead but for me it is like a wig for the woman. They put on a different one and it’s a personality. For me it’s a different vibe.” As for the upcoming games in Champions League action at Igokea in Bosnia, Wilson shared his thoughts about coming into the situation right now in one of the club’s decisive weeks of the season, “It’s awesome and nerve racking at the same time. Coming into a situation halfway through the year you don’t know what to expect. These guys make it really easy for you. Other then using a GPS all the time, basketball wise it’s great. I don’t feel like I’m new here.”

J’Covan Brown – Photo Credit: Oded Carni IBBA


The Injury Report

From all of the positive news in the Jerusalem camp, we’ve got to move over to the injury report which doesn’t look positive in J’Covan Brown’s case. The star guard had been out for while with a shoulder issue and he told us recently that surgery is something for down the road, but Katash is concerned actually very concerned about his captain, “We don’t have a backup plan and it’s concerning, I don’t want to lie. The medical staff has prepared us for the fact that there may be more bumps in the road, we will wait until tomorrow in order to make a better decision. We very much hope that he gets stronger and gets back to his game.” The club issued a statement on Sunday saying that they are holding the course with Brown and there is no plans to make any changes. He can continue to play and there will be ups and downs and surgery is not an option at this time according to the medical staff.

Tashawn Thomas – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Tashawn Thomas is also coming off an injury and Katash addressed that as well, “It bothered him during the game and I don’t remember a game that Tashawn asked to be subbed out 3-4 times. But this is basketball and I hope that Malcolm (Hill) will return and it will give us another player for our rotation.” Thomas himself spoke about his physical condition, “I’m a little bit beat up but no complaining. I gotta get up and be ready for the next game.”

And-One, And-Some

Over at Hapoel Eilat, Coach Ariel Beit Halachmi talked why his squad couldn’t get by Jerusalem, “We struggled with the small details. When you play a team like that you can’t make those mistakes. We had to demand more from the players and if you want to beat a team like Jerusalem, the players had to give more.”

In Other Cup Action

Hapoel Holon eased by Hapoel Acre 87-67 as Stefanos Dedas’s squad jumped out to a 45-30 lead after two quarters and never looked back. Tyrus McGee scored 15 points and added 8 assists and Willy Workman added 13 points in the win that saw the purples punch their ticket to the quarterfinals. Liran Moran paced Acre with 26 points in the loss.

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