Never Underestimate the heart of a Champion – Jerusalem moves into the Final 4

Hapoel Gilboa/Galil 74-99 Hapoel Jerusalem
The Reds moved into the Final 4 with a commanding performance in Gan Ner defeating the upstart Gilboa/Galil by 25 points. Jerome Dyson has an MVP night with 27 points while Tarence Kinsey added 15 points as Rich Howell recorded a double double with 10 points and 10 in the loss. Jerusalem will play the winner of the Hapoel Eilat/Hapoel Holon series.

1) When Jerusalem took a 62-47, 15 point lead in the 3rd quarter the series was for all intents and purposes over. They gave one of those take no prisoners efforts and finished the best of 5 series in 4 games, 3-1. Jerome Dyson who had been a vocal leader both on and off the court over the three wins played top dog while scoring at will. He had the heart of a champion and you can never, ever give up on one. Coach Katash agreed, “Dyson and Kinsey are vocal leaders and they took the series upon themselves. They showed that they are winners, but were not done yet.” JD himself who came into the press conference with a huge smile spoke about the how no one should ever, ever, underestimate the heart of a champion, “They really woke us up the first game. They came out running their mouth on every play and we took it personally. I think that’s what they didn’t understand. We came in to fight. We had a job to do and we wanted to get it done.”

2) One of the keys over the last two games was the Jerusalem depth versus that of Gilboa/Galil. There was no contest between the two teams. When you have Startos Perperologou, Kalin Lucas, Yotam Halperin and Lior Eliyahu coming off of your bench you know you’re in good shape. Yes, some of those players have been inconsistent over the course of the season but nonetheless when you have 4 players of this ilk at your disposal you’re in good shape. Depth is the name of the game when you’re playing every second day. Coach Oded Katash wouldn’t go as far to say that this was the decisive factor, “Gilboa doesn’t play with such a short rotation. Every game they seem to have an X-Factor. We played with a very short rotation ourselves in the second half, but the confidence of the players coming off of the bench was very important.” Ariel Beit Halachmi also addressed the depth issue, “I don’t want to take credit away from Jerusalem, they played better than us. We also have depth and you have to give them the credit, they deserve it.” Dyson also looked at the long bench that the Reds have, “It’s amazing. We pressured the ball and they weren’t going to be able to keep the tempo of the game that we want the whole way through, make plays and be fresh. The wanted to keep guys in the whole game and we were going to make them work.”

3) Got to give credit to Oded Katash for pulling this Jerusalem team together and getting them to the Final 4 because once you’re in you have a chance to win especially when it’s one and done. The former all-star guard knows exactly how to get the most out of a team and he’s done it over the last few years. Sure he had been with the Reds years ago but he was much younger and not as seasoned as he is now when he can lead what is called a “bigger” team in Israel not just the smaller clubs. He’s one with those as well when he took Hapoel Galil Eylon to the championship, he’s truly a special person, coach and was once an all-star player. Dyson also spoke about his coach and his belief that Jerusalem would make the Final Four even with all of the turmoil going on just a few months ago, “That’s me, that’s just who I am, I’ll never count myself out of nothing. Oded came in and did a great job for us. You saw the turnaround we had since the first day he arrived. Just me being a competitor, I’m never going to count myself out.”

And credit has to go to Ariel Beit Halachmi as well for putting together such an impressive roster. Zach LeDay, J’Covan Brown, D’Angelo Harrison were pure hits. The team was fun to watch just as they had been in prior seasons but this year they made the playoffs and that was a big accomplishment. The coach thanked the crowd for their support all season long, “We have a lot of appreciation towards our fans who filled the arena throughout the campaign.” Joaquin Szuchman also looked back at the season that was, “After being relegated a few years ago, we came back last season and had a solid campaign while this year we were so close to the Final 4 and we played good basketball. Next season we will take another step forward. Our secret this year was the way we got along as a team from a social point of view.”

Hapoel Eilat 87-70 Hapoel Holon
Eilat won at home to force a decisive game 5 on Thursday night at Holon thanks to a marvelous display by Ike Rosefelt (22p) and Jordan Loyd (14p/7r/7a/5s). Tamir Blatt has 16 points while Tu Holloway dropped 14 points in the loss.

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