There’s plenty of European basketball on Tuesday as Hapoel Jerusalem visits Prometey (19:00 Israel time) in game two of their Champions League Play In action while Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts ALBA Berlin (21:15) in Euroleague play.
Yotam Halperin’s Jerusalem will look to close out their best of 3 series in the Ukraine in order to punch their ticket to the Round of 16 Group Stage after having won game 1 by a wide margin, 95-70 a couple of weeks ago in Israel.
The Reds are well aware that this game will not be a repeat of what went down back earlier in January when they easily took care of Ronen Ginzburg’s Prometey, Halperin reiterated, “There’s no question that this game won’t be the same like they first one and we will have to make our adjustments and do the maximum. This will be a tough and long game that will go possession by possession.”
Jerusalem who have not played since game one due to a COVID outbreak within the team are looking forward to getting back to business as they try and join Unicaja, U-BT Cluj Napoca, as well as Filou Oostende in the next round.
“We’re anxious to play and we haven’t had a week with any games,” an excited Jalen Adams said. “It’s going to be a different game and they will be a lot more hungry as it will be do or die.”
There is no question that the likes of D’Angelo Harrison, Chris Dowe and DJ Kennedy will look to make up for their performance last game, the question will be can Jerusalem neutralize them?
“They will come more aggressive,” captain Adam Ariel said. “In the first game our shots went in but they will have more confidence this time and they have an excellent coach. We are expecting a very tough game and we will have to come in ready.”
Should Jerusalem falter at Prometey, the winner take all game three will take place back in Jerusalem on Thursday evening at 21:00. If the Reds polish off the series, they will play Hapoel Tel Aviv on Friday afternoon in an Israeli league game and will then ready for group stage play on Tuesday as they would host Cluj.
Over at Maccabi Tel Aviv, ALBA Berlin along with their two Israelis Yovel Zoosman and Tamir Blatt make their return to Israel and will look to put on a repeat performance of their result back in November when the German squad knocked off the Yellow & Blue 91-86.
Zoosman, who left Maccabi this summer after having played for Maccabi over the past number of seasons, scored 8 points including a couple of crucial 3-pointers against his former club earlier in the season.
“I don’t know how the fans will treat him,” Maccabi coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos said. “But I think good because he helped the team. It was very good to work with a very young Israeli player and I wanted to help work them into a system at Maccabi to play Euroleague at a high level. I gave him big credit when I first came here and supported him and he is doing very well.”
One of his former teammates in Jake Cohen who scored 5 triples in a 78-77 loss to Hapoel Tel Aviv earlier in the week is happy to have Zoosman and Blatt back in Israel, “I missed him in the first round due to National team and I am very excited to see my “nephew”. I hope the fans give him a very warm reception. Zoos was a very big part of championship teams here and did a lot of great things and I think he deserves it. I have a lot of love for Tamir, but I definitely want to win.”
As for the game itself, Sfairopoulos is well aware that the club needs to put the defeat to Hapoel in the rearview mirror and focus on the task at hand if they want to have any chance to advance to the playoffs.
“The most important thing now is to get back to our way of playing, to show a different face on the court than we did in our last domestic loss. We have to be ready to play a tough game against a very good, dangerous team. If you let ALBA play their game, they can score a lot, so we need to be tough. We have to focus on this opponent and on playing as we want.”
Cohen echoed the coach’s thoughts, “We need to work on our consistency, among other things, We can only keep working and improving. We had a great game against Olympiacos but we need to get better and we have another chance against ALBA.”
“I don’t really look at the table and every game as an opportunity. The opportunity is still alive and it’s only January, so there is still a chance. We have to keep playing and see how we do at the end.”