Katash goes out on a sour note as he heads to Panathinaikos: Analysis of Jerusalem’s devastating loss to Turk

Going out on a sour note

It’s not the way Oded Katash wanted to finish the job at Hapoel Jerusalem before taking the Panathinaikos position, but sometimes sports can be cruel. Obviously Katash wanted to leave to Greece by having defeated Turk Telekom and clinching a spot in the playoff round of the Champions League and for 39:57 minutes it certainly looked that way. However, that was before Kamar Baldwin got to work with a layup and then a free throw to snatch the 78-77 victory away from the Reds. Sam Dekker starred for the Ankara based squad and left Jerusalem in a lurch now having to rely on the same Turk club to beat Igokea in two weeks while the capital city team will ned to win in Limoges to punch their ticket to the next round. Definitely not the way the script as supposed to written before Danius Adomaitis takes over as Katash leaves the Reds in a bit of a pickle. “It’s a really tough loss and a tough feeling,” said an extremely disappointed Katash. “It was a very important game for the season and for the club, I hope the guys will do their best effort to qualify and finish the job in France. We struggled offensively and in the fourth quarter I felt we lost some confidence. We missed some layups and missed on the little things. This was a tough one for us.” Tashawn Thomas was down in the dumps following the game as he came to the post game press conference, “We did really well on defense, but then we got comfortable and I take the blame for that. Very disappointed with the result.”

Oded Katash
– Photo Credit: FIBA. Champions League

Taking the opportunity

Katash will move onto Panathinaikos where he will return to the place of arguably his greatest triumph as a player, helping the Greens win the Euroleague title over none other than Maccabi Tel Aviv. Before he departed for Greece, Katash spoke about the opportunity at hand and how these types of jobs aren’t available everyday, “I really was honored to be here from everyone at the club, the fans and it hasn’t been an easy week for me. A lot of emotions. I’m going to a big challenge, to a team that I know, a city and fans that I know well. You need some luck that things will go the right way and the reason I feel ready is because of my time at Jerusalem. I experienced a lot of things here in the great years and it was wonderful to be a part of a family. The players that were here the last 2.5 years were just amazing. There are always feelings of a missed opportunity and I will always feel a part of Jerusalem. I would have rathered that this chance would have come in the summer but you never know when these opportunities come around, there are a lot challenges ahead.” Tashawn Thomas also reflected on what Katash meant to him, “He means a lot everyone and we all love how he carried himself. You always got the same Oded and we got used to him. He helped me out and elevated my game, I want to take a lot of the things that I learnt from him and I took the best strides in my career.”

Sam Dekker – Photo Credit: FIBA. Champions League

And there was a game

Jerusalem had this game in there hands and blew it, plain and simple. Up by 19 points late in the second quarter, the Reds fell apart in the second half scoring only 11 points in the final frame as they threw away a chance to qualify for the next round. Jerusalem were cruising and scoring at will in the first half. Triple after triple fell one after the other as they went 9/15 over the first 20 minutes of action. But over the final twenty they were only able to muster up 3/12 while on the boards they were dominated 42-26 with Turk grabbing 14 offensive rebounds. It’s very hard to win games with stats like that. Why did Jerusalem fall apart? Probably a combination of focus, Katash leaving and just not having the urgency to finish the job which has been a problem for Jerusalem on occasion during the past few years, especially in big games whether it was in the Israel League Final Four or in Europe. New coach Dainius Adomaitis will be getting a team with proven veterans and guys that will lay it all out on the lone for the team that is for sure, but can he get that little extra out fo them? We shall see.

Sam Dekker spoke about the victory, “Great win, great performance by our team on the road responding to some tough situations with our personnel. Just got to fight with the five guys on the court and really proud of the guys to advance.” As for mounting a tremendous comeback, “You can’t get too caught up with that and you have to take it one possession at a time. There were times I didn’t and there were times you can slowly chip away at the lead, but we bandied together and stepped up. Good teams wins on the road and good teams know how to win.”

Liam Flynn – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Liam Flynn was one of Oded Katash’s assistant coaches last season and I had the privilege to meet him literarily as he got off of the plane at Ben Gurion Airport. I asked him to share his thoughts about Katash getting the opportunity to coach Panathinaikos:

“First and foremost, Coach will succeed at the Euroleague level because he genuinely cares for his players so in turn they want to play their very best for him. They love him! Same with his staff. He’s one of the most creative minds in world basketball. His 3out 2in offensive system is so unique and has been one of the most efficient offenses in Europe for the past few years. He also coaches bravely. He isn’t afraid of the moment or pressure. When you watch him coach he oozes confidence. It rubs off on his players – they are inspired by it. “

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