“Jeremy is going to be crucial for us” John Holland on Pargo’s importance, Magnificent Su is Magnificent again, Nes Ziona’s Season, Where to JP? 3-Pointers, Analysis & more as Jerusalem advances to the Final 4

1) Well it looks like Jeremy Pargo is ready to roll for Hapoel Jerusalem. The point guard was absolutely lethal in game 2 of the the Reds series against Nes Ziona. 22 points, 6/8 from 3 and an ankle breaker on youngster Eidan Alber at the end of the first half to give Oded Katash’s team a 57-44 advantage. ‘Nuff said. Everyone knew that Pargo was going to take that last shot and everyone knew what he was going to do, but it’s a work of art every time he just takes that step back and drains the 3 ball. Alber certainly knew it was coming, Nadav Zilberstein knew it was coming, the entire arena knew it was coming and Pargo just does what he does best. Putting that shot aside, Pargo looked very, very good and totally in the swing of things which has to make Katash and Jerusalem extremely happy as they head into a semifinal clash with Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion, “His shots went in,” said Katash. “It’s not so much about his shots that I was concerned with but how he was getting into the flow of the game which he did nicely along with his defensive prowess. He looks more comfortable and one good game can also give him the confidence he needs, even for veterans this is important.” John Holland also spoke about Pargo’s performance, “We had to accelerate everything when we added Jeremy and I think that everyone did a good job of getting him up to speed and comfortable. He is going to be crucial for us down the stretch. Everyday is another step and I think we’re all focused on winning.”

Dov Halickman Photography

2) Magnificent Su Braimoh was magnificent once again. Su looks so, so, so locked in it’s scary. This is the Braimoh that I remember with Eilat game in and game out. The player who left it all on the table last season and came oh so close to taking out eventual champions Maccabi Tel Aviv in a terrific semifinal that ended in a Yellow & Blue 85-83 victory where he scored 16 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. I also saw this version of Braimoh in the preseason especially in an early exhibition game at Malha, active, vocal and being very aggressive. Over the course of the season he has been consistent but didn’t take the mantle of a leader but averaged 12.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in the Israel league while clocking in with 11.4 points and 4.9 boards per game in Champions League action. However, since game one against Nes Ziona we have seen the Braimoh of “old” shall we say. The Braimoh who is vocal, aggressive and one that has taken back that leadership mantle. He almost even got tossed after arguing vehemently with the referees and Katash had to take him out before he would have been thrown out. This is the Braimoh that Jerusalem needs and that’s exactly what he explained, “In Eilat I had to play like that. We only had 3 imports and I had to be that guy. Jerusalem has way more talent and way more depth and my role is a little bit more specific. I’m not always needed to score and do everything. Pre or Post COVID, no J’Covan (Brown), no Tashawn (Thomas), it’s the playoffs and I love to win. So I’m in the mindset of doing what the team needs. If it’s being more aggressive, leadership or being more vocal, whatever is needed I’ll give it my all.”

Dov Halickman Photography

3) Did Nes Ziona have a successful season? Definitely. There is no question that coach Nadav Zilberstein got the maximum out of his team both before the break with terrific players like Jeff Withey, Corey Fisher and a fit Golan Gutt and Tal Dunne. Nes Ziona did a great job rebuilding the imports with Cam Oliver being the centerpiece, Rayvonte Rice and Lindell Wigginton plus JP Tokoto who joined the club at the start of February. It’s not easy to rebuild the team on the fly and credit does have to be given for the amazing efforts that Nes Ziona made. Zilberstein summed up the entire campaign after the game, “We reached three goals. Getting to the State Cup semifinal, advancing out of the group stages in Europe and reaching the Israeli league playoffs. Of course we ended on a sour note but Jerusalem deserves to be in the Final Four and they have a lot of tools and Oded (Katash) and the team deserve all the credit in the world. They are better than us and were better in this series.”

Dov Halickman Photography

Tokoto really took the bull by the horns and tried to leads as best as he could for Nes Ziona and did an admirable job after returning to Israel following a spell at San Pablo Burgos for the first part of the 2019/20 season. Tokoto was fabulous last year with Hapoel Eilat and helped the team reach the Final Four and it seems like he just knows how to make it work here in Israel. “We had a tough draw and we played well in a few of the games and even in the losses we were for the most part competitive. We were basically four new players and it’s tough to make things work on the court.” He also talked about what may be next for himself, “We will have to wait and see. I have a few options and I will take a look at them when I get home and settle down. It all depends on this outbreak and it’s unfortunate as things are still kind of wild.”

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