Hapoel Jerusalem defeated Hapoel Beer Sheva 77-71 as Bryton Lemar paced the hosts early on to record the club’s second win of the season. The Reds came out strong with Lemar carrying the offense, but the visitors stayed close with Egor Koulechov scoring from deep, however, Jerusalem with Speedy Smith almost clocking in with a triple-double, Yovel Zoosman and Zach Hankins outlasted the southerners to take the victory.
Lemar led the way with 19 points, Smith added 12 points, 13 assists and 8 rebounds and Zoosman chipped in with 10 points in the win. Koulechov scored 20 points and JaKeenan Gant put in 14 points in the loss.
“This win was important for the players,” Jerusalem assistant coach Shai Olerarczyk said. “They understood the situation that we are in and they really dug in deep to get this win. If coach Dzikic is leaving that would be very sad for me. He is a very big piece of the puzzle here at Hapoel Jerusalem.”
“We had a good game and we were able to get to the points that we had worked on beforehand,” Beer Sheva coach Yoav Shamir said. For many parts of the game we executed well. We were able to do this for 37.5 minutes but when you play a team like Hapoel Jerusalem you need to be focussed for 40 minutes because of you don’t you’ll be punished.”
Speedy Smith who came close to recording a triple-double spoke about the coaching staff and the win, “I want to say T [Theo Giannokopoulos] and Shai Olerarczyk have done a great job in preparing us for the games and they deserve the respect for that. I want to congratulate them for that and taking a leading role I’m thankful for them. I’m not making 13 assists if my teammates aren’t making shots, Lemar played out of his mind and t’s a team thing. I appreciate them for that.”
Smith also spoke about Coach Dzikic and what he has done for his career, “I’m so thankful for coach and what he has done for me and my career. It’s a rough time and I’m always going to play my best basketball with my defense. We stay humble, he taught us not to accept to just be good enough. We need to appreciate him for leading us to the Cup last season.”
Sports Director Yonatan Alon then addressed Dzikic’s future with the club, “The decision is still not finalized but it’s clear that we need a coach 24/7 and it’s a tough situation. The coach has done some very special things and we’re willing to pay a price for a certain amount of time. But we will need to find someone who can step in and continue what we have created and we want to find someone who can do that in the way that Dzikic has done here in his style but that person is very hard to find. We don’t know if we want to bring someone in for just the end of the season or for longer than that. In the summer we have more options and in the wintertime there are less.”
“I want to make it clear that this is not a battle between two sides but this is a tough situation for both sides and we are all human beings. As for myself stepping in to coach, I just feel that it’s something that is not right for the system. As for Khadeen Carrington and his citizenship application our deadline is the Israel National Team deadline which is late February.”
Egor Koulechov had the hot hand for Hapoel Beer Sheva with a trio of triples while Brynton Lemar scored for Hapoel Jerusalem who took a 21-20 lead after ten minutes of play. Yovel Zoosman and Chris Johnson got busy for the Reds while Lemar found points as well to open up a 40-31 lead midway through the second quarter but Neta Segal, Grant Sherfield and Koulechov pulled the southerners to within 3-points, 42-39 at halftime.
JaKeenan Gant scored for Yoav Shafir’s squad while Or Cornelius countered for Shai Olerarczyk’s team, Segal continued to score as did Koulechov but points from Gaby Chachashvili inside kept Jerusalem in front 59-56 after thirty minutes of action. Oz Blayzer and Speedy Smith each went from deep to begin the final frame, Johnson and Zoosman scored in transition, Koulechov tried to keep the game close but Zach Hankins put down a pair of dunks to wrap up the win.
Nes Ziona crushed Bnei Herzliya 99-68 as Yair Kravits recorded a triple-double to lead the visitors to the win. Elad Hasin’s team came out on fire as Kravits, Jerome Meyinsse and Isaiah Whitehead helped Nes Ziona take a 52-39 lead by halftime while a 26-10 third quarter to polish off the win.
Meyinsse scored 29 points, Whitehead added 21 points and Kravits with his triple-double scored 11 points grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out 12 assists in the victory. Tyler Stone scored 15 points and Ethan Burg added 14 points in the loss.
After the game, Kravits commented on his achievement, “I shudder when you say that (that he is the second Israeli player to record a triple-double after Meir Tapiro) but I will tell you something, I work hard, the team believes in me and the coach believes in me. It comes from hard work and practice. The most important thing though is the victory, but right noe no one is happier than me.”
The guard continued about having played in the past at Herzliya, ”Herzliya is like my home, there are guys who are part of my heart and soul. I will keep in touch with them for my entire life and I love them very much. I was captain at Herzliya for two years, I won a State Cup so it’s somewhat of a strange moment. I think I got to the right places today and my decision-making was right as I found the open guys.”
Elad Hassin also spoke about the game and Kravits’s accomplishment, “It was a long summer and we chased after him for a long time. I like him very much, I think he is a special player. He works hard and is patient and knows how to take more on himself when needed. As time has progressed, his connection with me and with the team have become even stronger. This was reflected in an extraordinary game, he is another one of our leaders and played a great game.”