Ramle and Jerusalem to face off for the first Silverware of the season on Thursday

Mar 6, 2024 | Holyland Hoops

Beit Maccabi in Rishon Letzion will host the Women’s State Cup Final this Thursday night (18:30 IST / 11:30 EST) between Elitzur Ramle and Hapoel Lev Jerusalem.

With International Women’s Day being celebrated on Friday, the players will go onto the court prior to the game holding photos of the 19 female hostages still being held captive by Hamas following their attack on Israel on October 7 last year.

The teams booked their tickets to the Final after winning their Semi-Finals on Monday night, with Ramle defeating AS Ramat Hasharon 80-68 and Jerusalem defeating Hapoel Rishon Letzion 81-77. The game promises to be exciting as it involves two of the in-form teams in the country, with Ramle in undefeated in first place after 15 rounds of the Athena Winner League (Israeli’s premier women’s basketball league), while Jerusalem finds itself in second place with 12 wins.

Danny Gutt – Photo credit: IBBA

“The two best teams in the league made the Final,” Ramle coach Danny Gutt said in the pre-game press conference. “Emotionally we got through the Semi-Final, we’re on task – we’re ready for an interesting game.

“There are lots of keys to the game,” Gutt continued. “They are a good team and in good shape after lots of consecutive wins. But we have the tools to do our own work, what we do daily, it gives us the confidence to bring the trophy back to Ramle.”

Danny Gutt and Limor Peleg – Photo credit: IBBA

“Ramle is a deeper and more experienced team than our opponent in the Semi-Final, which is evident from the fact that they are leading the League,” Jerusalem coach Limor Pelleg said. “What was against Rishon in the Semi-Final already happened. I’m happy that we won, but it says nothing about tomorrow’s game. I hope that we’re able to put together 40 minutes.”

Another element to the game is going to be the battle of experience of each organization, with Ramle a 6-time State Cup Champion and an 12-time League Champion, while Jerusalem is in just its first season in the top flight.

“Ramle is a team with lots of tradition – not only professionally – but we will play our game, which is what brought us to here and I hope we win tomorrow,” Peleg said. “We didn’t know how the season would develop – especially because of the war and the foreigners [who did not play in the first rounds of games between the teams in the League] and all the changes. We built a young team, but they’re fit and good. To my luck we made the final. I think that the excitement for the organization and the team is not that we made it to the final and the game itself, but rather the hype around us and what we have done, all the work. That is the purpose of Hapoel Lev Jerusalem.”

Daniel Raber and Alyssa Baron – Photo credit: IBBA

Despite the rich history and being undefeated in the League this season, Ramle captain Daniel Raber was not especially fazed by the pressure of the final.

“In Cup games the pressure is a factor always,” Raber said. “It’s like any other game, we prepared as we needed to and we will come to win the game. We understand what the game means tomorrow. Everyone wants to take the second title of the season [after Ramle won the pre-season Winner Tournament]. We are focused, ready, and we’ll come to win tomorrow.”

Going in as underdog is not something which takes any pressure off of Jerusalem. “It’s not a weight off my shoulders,” Jerusalem captain Alyssa Baron said. “Both teams will come ready to fight.

Alyssa Baron – Photo credit: IBBA

“It’s not just on the court tactics, it’s also mentally and physically getting our bodies ready for the game,” Baron said of the key to approaching the game. “Eat and sleep right, to play against a team which is at top of the league. We just need to come right in and try our best.”

One of Jerusalem’s three losses in the League this season was of course to Ramle in Jerusalem on New Year’s Day this year. Ramle dominated the second and third quarters (50-32 during those 20 minutes of play) to come away with a 99-94 victory. Four of the top performers in that game were Jennie Simms (a triple-double with 26 points, 14 points and 13 assists) and Eden Rotberg (11 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals) for Ramle and Alyssa Baron (30 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals) and Shir Tirosh (15 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists and 1 steal) for Jerusalem. But neither coach is going to make the mistake of focusing too much on the other team’s stars.

“They’re great players, they score lots of points, but Jerusalem is not just them,” Gutt said of Baron and Tirosh. “They have other players that we will need to handle. We are focusing on things that we have done well, which we plan do in the game.”

Limor Peleg – Photo credit: IBBA

“Ramle is more than those players,” Peleg said of Simms and Rotberg. “We need to play good defense and make the stops we need to make.”

What will separate the winner from the runner up? “I don’t think the tactics will be the difference,” Gutt said. “There’s a lot of mental strength and physical strength. The team which knows how to bring those things will win the game.”

The game will be televised live on Sport 5. Entrance to the arena is free for fans who want to attend in person.

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