Hapoel Jerusalem walloped Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion 97-84 as the Reds featured six players in double digits while shooting close to 50% from beyond the arc to take the 13-point victory. Dainius Adomaitis’s squad scored early and often as Tamir Blatt, Stanton Kidd and J’Covan Brown helped the hosts to a 27-11 lead after ten minutes and never looked back.
Suleiman Braimoh led the way with 19 points, Stanton Kidd added 16 points, Tashawn Thomas chipped in with 15 points while J’Covan Brown scored 12 points and 9 assists and Tamir Blatt scorned 12 points and dished out 6 assists in the win. Noam Dovrat and Darryl Monroe each scored 17 points and Jamil Wilson added 16 points against his former team in the loss.
Adam Ariel begin the game with points for Hapoel Jerusalem while J’Covan Brown nailed a 3-pointer ante Tashawn Thomas scored a deuce to give the hosts a 7-2 lead midway through the first quarter. Jeremy Pargo scored a triple against his former club while Tamir Blatt and newcomer Stanton Kidd answered with two 3’s each for the Reds to take a 27-11 advantage after ten minutes.
Adi Cohen Saban joined the 3 point party with one of his own from the left corner to get the second quarter off and running, while Malcolm Hill added points and Kidd drilled home his third triple of the game to bump Jerusalem’s lead up to 38-17 with 7:41 left in the first half. Jamil Wilson and Darryl Monroe scored a pair of baskets each to begin cutting down the Jerusalem lead to 41-29 with 4:43 remaining in the frame. Monroe and Pargo continued to score for Guy Goodes’s squad while Noam Dovrat scored as well, but Blatt and Idan Zalmanson kept Dainius Adomaitis’s squad in front 56-41 at halftime.
Suleiman Braimoh and Brown scored for Jerusalem as the third quarter got underway, Monroe answered for Rishon while Akil Mitchell scored his first points of the game but Jerusalem maintained a 67-49 lead midway through the frame. Mitchell scored a pair of buckets and Golan Gutt added his first points of the game from long distance but Braimoh and Kidd kept the Reds on top 81-62.
Thomas and Pargo traded baskets to begin the fourth quarter, Tishman and Wilson added points for Rishon but Thomas scored a pair inside and added a huge alley-oop to put the punctuation mark on a 13-point win.
FANS ARE BACK
The Hapoel Jerusalem faithful were back at the Arena in full force as the 300 supporters that were permitted inside the facility made it sound like there were over 3,000 and that’s good news. The number of fans allowed will be increased this week to 1,000 and hopefully there will be even more and the days and weeks go by as more and more people are vaccinated. With the fans in tow, Jerusalem came out flying, playing their best game of the Dainius Adomaitis era by jumping out to a 16 point lead after the first quarter and never looked back. The bench boss who has now been with the team for close to two months smiled when asked about the return of the fans, “The fans gave us this energy. The guys were excited to play for the fans.” Captain J’Covan Brown who knows a thing or two about the Jerusalem fans echoed his coach’s thoughts, “It’s a great feeling. We missed them all season and it feels great to have them back.” Finally, newcomer Stanton Kidd who drilled home four 3-pointers, grabbed five boards and dished out 3 assists was also happy to be able to perform for the fans, “Amazing. They showed a lot of support. It felt good to have the fans.”
NEW KIDD ON THE BLOCK
Speaking of Stanton Kidd, the new kid on the block is looking pretty good so far for the Reds in his two games with the club. He’s an excellent defender, a superb shooter and all around good guy to have your team which was as clear as a blue sky on a summer’s day. He knows when to take his shots, cut, pass and move with the flow of the offensive structure of the team and he’s got a good basketball IQ. Kidd’s been a pleasure to watch so far and I am sure his teammates are happy to have him as well. “Very happy to have him,” said Adomaitis. “He can play both the 3-4 and and can play with the ball. Sometimes we have problems with ball handlers with Chris Kramer being out and he’s really smart and a team player.” Brown is also happy and seemed confident to have the newcomer around, “Kidd is a great player and he will help us a lot.” As for Kidd himself, he’s as cool as a cucumber, “They made it pretty easy for me as they told me to be myself and take my time learn the plays and gel with the team. As handling the ball, we got two amazing playmakers in JB (J’Covan Brown) and TB (Tamir Blatt). So it allows me to do things that I did in Darrusafaka under David Blatt which is to shoot the ball and attack the rim and defend. Coach Blatt was one of the best coaches I ever played for. To play with his son TB, well he’s a hell of a player.”
It was clear that Jerusalem played really well and shot the ball with fluidity going 13/28 from beyond the arc and 55% from two in the victory. But as Adomaitis has preached since his first day in town is that a good offense is created by a good defense and that he expects that his players will be 110% committed to playing that side of the floor. So following the game, he was a happy camper when asked about his team’t performance, “The defensive determination was key and offensively we had a rhythm. I think this is how we need to play. If you play from the defensive side you control the game.” And control the game Jerusalem did. I also asked the coach about relying on the 3-point shot which is definitely a weapon that the bench boss has at his disposal with great shooters. The question is, will the team use this as a major piece or artillery considering last game which was a win over Nahariya the Reds shot more from 3 than from 2 and that looked like it was going to be the case against Rishon until they called the dogs off with a huge lead heading into the final stretch. “We took some too quick shots. If we are open we need to take the shots. I know what you mean and today was better balance this game with the shots. Tamir got hot and took shots also. Opponents try to cheat sometimes so you need to punish them.”
J’Covan Brown is in his third season with the club and was named captain to begin the campaign. After not finishing off the 2019/20 season with the team when the league returned during the summer time, Brown came back full of berry and drive to lead the squad but suffered a shoulder injury dying training camp that then left him out on the sidelines for a couple of months. Once he came back it took time to get back into the swing of things and he’s done an admirable job of that which certainly wasn’t easy. But he knows that he must lead by example, “It’s up to us it’s not about the other teams. It’s starts with me being the leader closing games out. l need to be better.” With Coach Oded Katash leaving the team and Coach Dainius Adomatis coming in another challenge lay in the wait. While it’s not a simple change, Brown knows that the team needs to keep working on getting better and be up for that demand, “We just have to adapt. You have to accept whatever comes with it. Sometimes you have a bad stretch and you just have to show that character that you can get out of that deep end of the water and once you have what it takes you can be happy again.”
Hapoel Halon nipped Hapoel Gilboa Galil 82-80 up in the Galilee. The neck and neck battle saw a number of lead changes and close play throughout the 40 minutes by Stefanos Dedas’s squad who came away with the hard earned victory. Tyrus McGee led the way with 19 points, CJ Harris added 15 points and Maxim De Zeeuw chipped in with 14 points in the win. Joe Thomasson scored 17 points, Kerry Blackshear added 16 points and 10 rebounds while Jehyve Floyd scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the defeat.