“Just keep fighting for your brothers” Jerusalem Captain J’Covan Brown’s happy to be back + Max Heidegger looks to help Herzliya out of the hole

1) Hapoel Jerusalem moved their WINNER League season record to 6-0 with yet another victory this time against an overmatched Bnei Herzliya in a game that was never close despite the Reds only having won by 10-points 96-86. Oded Katash has really worked miracles with the squad which seen some much fluctuation with players being injured from game to game while even featuring only 7 players from time to time. Obviously this isn’t the way Katash had envisioned the season but in the year of COVID-19 you’ve got to roll with the punches and that’s what he’s been able to do. Captain J’Covan Brown is back after being out for a few months with a shoulder injury and he provides instant leadership on the court. It’s clear that his addition will be huge for the Reds especially with a pair of Champions League games coming up in Bonsia. “It feels great and it’s been a long 3 months, a journey for me,” Brown explained following the victory. “I’m happy to be out there with my teammates. It’s still a process for me and it’s one step at a time, day by day and trying to strengthen my shoulder.”

J’Covan Brown – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Brown who scored 13 points and dished out 9 assists in just 20 minutes knows that although the team has a bunch of banged up players, it’s all for one and one or all, “When you walk into that lockerroom it’s one step and every man brings what they can bring every night. It doesn’t matter if it’s 40%, 50% but it has to be like 100% as we have a lot of banged up guys. You can’t use it as an excuse, just keep fighting for your brothers. I’m far from 100% but when you’re on the court you can’t think like that, you just got to give your teammates whatever you can give.”

J’Covan Brown – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

The captain also had a guest with him for the last little while in his son and he was very happy to have been able to spend quality time with him, “It’s my son’s first time watching me play basketball as I’ve been overseas for seven years. It’s a great experience for him and for me; I’ve had a blast, now it’s time for him to go back to school and enjoy regular life.”

Oded Katash – Credit: Dov Halickman

2) Katash will get some players back over the next couple of weeks as Tashawn Thomas is a bit banged up and Malcolm Hill will begin to practice with the team in 10 days. On top of that the club just signed Jamil Wilson for the balance of the season after playing for Roma the last few months, “We’re happy that he is joining us and he’s played at the highest of levels which is what we targeted. Jamil has size and is a stretch 4 with a good shot. He’s intelligent, good guy and the right character to fit in well in our lockerroom. The best thing is that he is coming in good shape as he has played in Europe. That’s good for us and he will arrive next week.”

Chris Smith – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

In addition, Chris Smith rejoined the team after training the past half year in Athens, Greece. Last season, Smith came to Jerusalem in December and was around at the start as a practice player and then was activated as he featured in the team’s games as well as he is Israeli. Will Smith once again play a role with the club? “Right now Chris is a practice player and he was with us in the past. He is popular with the guys in the lockerroom and if we need to use him and we see fit then we will.”

Frank Gaines – Credit: Dov Halickman

3) Sharon Drucker was not a happy camper to say the least and who can blame him. With an 0-7 record, how could he be content especially after the team’s display over the course of the first three quarters. “The loss doesn’t disappoint me on one condition, that the players fight, battle and are aggressive which I didn’t see for the first 3 quarters. I finally found that in the last quarter. We need to have a revolution, not all the players but ones who care and will show heart. I’ve been in these situations before and we will do our best. We have gone through a lot this season and we have to play tough to get out of this.”

Max Heidegger – Credit: Dov Halickman

One of the players who just arrived is Max Heidegger who is on loan from Maccabi Tel Aviv. Heidegger, will certainly get minutes under Drucker and scored 14 points in the loss to Jerusalem. The guard was a surprise signing for the Yellow & Blue after having featured UC Santa Barbara and made Aliyah and became a citizen of Israel die to his Jewish heritage. “I have to acclimate fast and I have to make a quick transition. But coach has been really helpful and he’s a great coach. I’m just trying to learn as quick as I can. For me it’s a bigger opportunity with more responsibility for myself. It’s a different situation and it’s another challenge.”

Max Heidegger – Credit: Dov Halickman

As for what he sees as being the key for survival in top division, Heidegger had this to say, “We got to play harder earlier, towards the end we started to show a little fight whether it’s a hard foul or starting to run or starting to get into guys. It’s little things like our effort that we have to be a lot better at, giving up a ton of offensive rebounds and that falls on me as well. We got to crash the boards harder and with our heart and if we do that timings will work itself out. Nothing is ever too far gone. We have to start playing together and start playing harder especially from the tip instead of having to try and crawl our way out I think we can but time will tell.”

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