This was one hard game to watch. Oren Amiel’s Hapoel Jerusalem should have been Rated X at this point for all of its raw footage on the court. Poor play, bad passing, awful shooting, terrible defense, this was a game that had it all. Plus of course some controversy thrown in never keeps things boring.
Gone are the days of Oded Katash’s fluid offensive game, one that was a pleasure to watch in action with pick and rolls, screens and just a certain love to hoop. This version if the Reds remind me of a hockey team that plays dump and chase. Chuck the puck into the offensive zone, try to regain possession and make something happen. That is exactly what we saw in the 73-68 loss to Manresa.
Give Jalen Adams the ball and let him score as he was the only Jerusalem player with double digits in points. There was absolutely no one else who could have been relied upon to produce a basket. Adams was a lone ranger.
Shooting 6/32 from beyond the arc and 18/44 from two while grabbing 55(!) rebounds doesn’t exactly exude any confidence in the product on the floor.
Adam Ariel 1/8
Anthony Bennett 2/10
Thon Maker 1/4
Kaiser Gates 2/7
Sean Kilpatrick 2/10
Retin Obasohan 1/6
These percentages are brutal. Just brutal.
Now you can have a bad shooting night as Oren Amiel said in the post game press conference, but despite playing such anti-basketball Jerusalem still were in the lead for the majority of the game due to Manresa’ equally awful play and had a chance to win right until the end. However, Amiel didn’t help matters with a number of peculiar decisions.
One of those was having Adam Ariel inbound the ball with the score 71-68 for Manresa in a play that would have seen the ball go into the corner to Gates and back out to Ariel for what would have been a game tying triple. Unfortunately, the Manresa defender swarmed Gates and Ariel forced the pass into him when no other player came to the ball and help out.
“Maybe we didn’t choose the right player to inbound the ball,” Amiel said. “But the play wasn’t executed properly and we didn’t make the block that needed to be made to get the play off.”
There were a number of players who could have shot the 3-ball and it seemed that Ariel inbounding had no other options available to him thus forcing the errant pass.
Jerusalem has no true point guard to distribute the ball. Obasohan is the closest to that player but it’s clear the team is missing a #1 who thinks pass first and Jerusalem just doesn’t have that as we saw Amit Gershon playing the position for extended minutes. That is not going to win you any games.
And now the piece de resistance.
Sean Kilpatrick was taken out of the game with roughly four minutes left in the third quarter and never returned to action. A peculiar move to say the least and one that had to be questioned in the press conference which yours truly certainly did.
“There are things that I would rather keep to ourselves and we went with players who could help us at the end,” Amiel said.
Now if I am Amiel, why would I make that comment? If these things should be kept to themselves, then why tell the press that? Isn’t that not a comment that will stir the drink? Is there a message that he wanted to send loud and clear to the players and perhaps management?
On top of making the comment, why did the team bring in a player of Kilpatrick’s status? A player who has played at the highest levels and one that is supposed to be relied on in crunch time situations in what was a must win home Champions League game?
Why cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face?
If whatever red line was crossed, then deal with it post game, not when you know that you have to deliver a result in front of your home crowd that made sure to let Amiel know what they thought of his team’s play.
After close to an hour and half following the game Kilpatrick left the lockerroom and spoke about the situation while not shedding to much light on it, “That was coach’s decision. I’m here to do my job, root my teammates on and play basketball. As a player I’ll say yes I think I can help my team at any given moment but when it comes to coach making those type of decisions and figuring out what’s best for the team I guess that’s his opinion that’s how I got to take it. I continue cheering my teammates on and be the professional that I am. We haven’t spoken about anything. I was just making sure that my teammates have the right mentality.”
Thon Maker who also left the lockerroom with Kilpatrick along with Bennett and Obasohan then sat with Willy Workman on the Jerusalem bench for some time to talk. However, just before having a five person pow-wow on what one can only imagine what the topic was, Maker who according to Yakov Meir from Israel HaYom is on his way out of the team spoke to the assembled media about Amiel’s stance.
“Kilpatrick is one of our go to guys, a lot of plays we run he benefits and we benefit when he benefits from those plays. Our threes were not going well tonight so that mid range could have helped us because he is really good in those areas and his passing abilities as well. He is a guy that is respected by the defense a lot and that attracts attention. I didn’t know what happened in the game I was so locked in I did not pay attention to what went on.”
While the Israeli league is just beginning, Europe is starting to slip away and slip away very, very quickly. There are only 6 games in the opening group stage and the Reds are already 0-2 with both losses coming at home. To advance in the four team group you’ve got to finish in places 1-3 so 3rd is still a possibility, but the club has got to turn it around and turn it around quickly or else they will make a very early exit in a competition that they have already faltered in a number of times. If they don’t get their house in order the Champions League will soon be in the rear view mirror.
With a former BCL coach of the year in Amiel on the sidelines, that would be a pity, a real pity.