Retin Obasohan said that Hapoel Jerusalem’s win over Hapoel Holon in game two of their semifinal series was a tale of two halves, but in fact it was a clinic in defensive prowess that helped the Reds head to a pivotal game three on Thursday back in the capital city.
There was a ton of relief pouring off of Obasohan’s face following Jerusalem’s 75-61 win over Hapoel Holon as Yotam Halperin’s squad held Guy Goodes’s to just 26 second half points by raising the level of their intensity to set up a do or die matchup back on their home floor.
Jerusalem came into the Holon with one objective and one objective only, to win and keep their season alive after having fallen in game one at home in a game that Joe Ragland carved the Reds up for 40 points in one of the all-time great playoff performances.
However, that was not going to happen again as Halperin’s game plan was to dog Ragland from the get go with Obasohan taking on the challenge and have Jalen Adams (23p) handle the offensive load. In fact, “Oba” only scored his first points and in fact all of his points (11) in the final frame when he started to take the ball to the hoop and got fouled continuously during the fourth quarter, headed to the charity stripe 10 times over the last ten minutes of play.
Whether it’s defense, offense, passing, shooting or even cleaning the floor, Obasohan will do what it takes to win, “I’ve said from day one whatever the team needs from me to succeed I’ll do, including cleaning the locker room. I come to play defense the best I can. We played for Jerusalem and played our heart out. It was beautiful to see.”
“There was a sense of urgency that if we didn’t show up, we’d be going home, so we had to show up. Commitment to each other, the goals and to what we are trying to achieve at Jerusalem created a sense of urgency.”
Halperin knows that Obasohan is the guy that will do what it takes to win and also do so with a big smile of his face, “Oba gives us a lot and has an incredible personality. It’s great to have someone like him here. He is our anchor on defense and will play the opposing guards. While he wasn’t great offensively in the first half, he was very good defensively. In the fourth quarter he went to the line and he was able to do that plus hit a big 3-pointer. He played very well and I’m very happy that I have a player like Oba on this team.”
While Adams handled the offense and Obasohan was the minister of defense, it was up and coming Noam Dovrat who provided the extra relish and mustard for Jerusalem with 14 points including a triple and a 3-point play to go along with 3 boards in the fourth quarter alone.
The 19-year old who had suffered an elbow injury at the end of the 2020/21 campaign looked as good as ever and as cool as a cucumber with Jerusalem’s season on the line.
“We didn’t want this season to end,” Dovrat said following the win. “We knew that we had to come here to Holon and win the game. I am happy that we were able to do just that. We came into this game after getting smashed and we knew that we had to play better and give that extra because there was nothing left to save. We had to give it all and that is what we did.”
Jerusalem’s head coach Yotam Halperin who was a star point guard himself and was drafted by the Seattle Supersonics in the second round of the 2006 NBA Draft knows exactly what type of talented player in Dovrat he is tasked with.
“From the first day Noam came to the team, I decided that whenever it was going to end Noam had to be a better player. Sure there are some games where he doesn’t play as well but I want to go home this summer and say that he is a better player when he comes back next season. There is a tremendous amount of room for him to improve and yes, he had a good game here but still he needs to get better.”
Obasohan also spoke about Dovrat and his potential, “I’m very excited for Noam. Him and I had a conversation after the Rishon game in which I told him you are very talented, but it will all start between your ears. There were moments he hesitated in this game but down the stretch he overcame that and hit some big shots. It shows his maturity, he’s growing and I’m excited for him and for his future.”
Over on the Holon side, Guy Goodes, who was Dovrat’s coach over at Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion knows that his team will need to be ready for Thursday’s game three, “We just didn’t hit our shots as we had done in Jerusalem and as we would have wanted to. We couldn’t convert our chances and Jerusalem deserved to win as they led the majority of the way. We will be more focused on Thursday and whoever will be the tougher team will take the win.”
Michale Kyser also chimed in on Holon’s up coming challenge, “They got the best of us in game two and we have to be prepared for the final game on Thursday. We’re a good team and I feel we will come back for the game in the best shape we can be in.”
With the series moving back to Jerusalem it’s very hard to see a situation where the Reds will lose both home games in this series. Is it possible? For sure. Likely? Not if Jerusalem puts the hammer down as they did in game two Dovrat explained.
“We were better defending one on ones and we were able to stop their transition game. This game was important to each and every one of us as well as for the club. I’m happy that I was able to contribute and the atmosphere was amazing. This is why we play these games. We have one more game on Thursday and we will come in and do the exact same.”