Hapoel Jerusalem were dominated by San Pablo Burgos, falling 92-65 in the Champions League Final 8 quarterfinals as the curtain fell on their 2019/20 European campaign. The Reds had advanced to the last stage of the tournament back in March when they defeated Peristeri in the Round of 16 but due to the coronavirus, the continental season was put on hold until this past week.
Burgos came out strong right off the bat and never looked back as they pounded the ball inside to Dejan Kravic who controlled the paint throughout the contest while Thad McFadden drilled home his 3-point opportunities from the outside to cruise to the win over an overmatched Jerusalem.
Nikos Pappas, who joined Oded Katash’s team on Saturday led the team in scoring with 13 points while Luka Mitrovic matched his total as well. Suleiman Braimoh and and Tashawn Thomas each scored 12 points in the loss. Dejan Kravic clocked in with a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, Thad McFadden scored 18 points including four 3-pointers, Jordan Sakho added 13 points and Alex Renfroe chipped in with 10 points in the victory.
Burgos jumped out to a 11-6 lead midway through the first quarter as Dejan Kravic worked the inside for the Spanish squad as Tashawn Thomas and Luka Mitrovic tried to keep Jerusalem within reach. However, Kravic along with veterans Alex Renfroe and Omar Cook extended the advantage to 23-15 after ten minutes of play.
Nikos Pappas opened the scoring in the second quarter but a trio of triples by diminutive guard Thad McFadden inflicted further damage on Oded Katash’s team. Jerusalem continued to shoot blanks as Tamir Blatt and Malcolm Hill were held scoreless while committing a combined 7 turnovers over the course of the first half giving Burgos a 49-32 lead at halftime.
Joan Penarroya’s squad came out on fire to start the third quarter as Kravic scored in the paint and Renfroe found the basket from outside as Pappas tried in vain to keep the game respectable but Burgos led 58-42 midway through the frame. Hill scored his first points of the game for the Reds but McFadden, Kravic and Xavier Rabaseda kept putting the ball in the bucket to take a 77-48 advantage into the 4th quarter. The final frame was a reflection of the previous three quarters as Jordan Sakho began to score for Burgos as they ran away with the 92-65 win.
1) It seemed like Oded Katash had no plan coming into this game. His substitutions were spotty, he played questionable lineups, newcomer Nikos Pappas played way too much for being with the team for barely a few days and it took almost a half to see Deividas Sirvidis and Idan Zalmanson. The result? A disaster. I understand that the Reds were playing an ACB team that are already three deep into their regular season. I understand that Jerusalem began preparations later than other teams as the Israeli league ended late. I understand that James Feldeine is no longer with the team. But to play zero defense and to get throughly embarrassed by 27 points can’t sit well with the fans and management. A disappointed and devastated Katash had this to say following the contest, “Almost everything went wrong for us. It was a tough loss and also the way we played. We knew we were going to face a very good team and they were more ready than us. We had to play a perfect game to give us a chance to win but it wasn’t our night the way we played.”
2) Nikos Pappas made what will most probably his only Jerusalem appearance. Not only did he play, he played over 23 minutes having never seen his teammates before Saturday!?!?! How does Katash basically give the keys to the brand new car before Pappas got his drivers license? Yes, I know he’s a Euroleague player with years of experience but still, you have a team that at least has been together for a month and then you throw a player into the mix in arguably a massively important game? It makes absolutely no sense. This is what Pappas had to say about his debut and departure, “We saw a bad picture and I think that nobody deserved this picture. From what I see in the few days is that they have talent and kids that can run, score and play defense but we didn’t show that. I trust the coach and I wish them good luck. They deserve better results and they will get them. I am really happy to have played with Hapoel and maybe we will meet again in the future.” Tashawn Thomas wanted to look at the right side of Pappas’s time with the team, “I don’t think it was too tough and he has a similar game to J’Covan Brown. It was easy for him, but it was still tough. He kind of fit in with us the way he stepped in. He was talking to the guys and teaching it was helpful for the short amount of time he was here.”
3) Where was Tamir Blatt, Malcolm Hill and Tarik Phllip? The trio combined for 9 points and 9 turnovers in a combined 86 minutes of play. Add to that 2/19 from the field and you’ve got an absolute horror show. What is even more shocking is that the threesome played well over the preseason and had a chance to show their wares in the big stage. Blatt having signed with Alba Belin over the summer and both Hill and Phillip having come over from smaller teams to make the jump to Jerusalem were all handed a golden opportunity to impress and they folded when the cards were on the table. The lockerroom was quite the scene I’m sure following the game as Tashawn Thomas who also had a rough night commented on what he told the team following the contest, “After the game I told the team we have to learn from this and we have move on. We have the whole Israeli League season and 20/21 Champions League campaigns ahead of us. We have to just move on.”
The star of the show was Dejan Kravic who set the tone early and often for Burgos scoring in various fashions in the paint while playing stifling defense and pulling down board after board. Jerusalem had no answer for Kravic as he did as he pleased against the Reds. The Serbian-Canadian himself seemed surprised at how he was able to just dominate inside as I asked if that was the game plan form the outset, “That wasn’t really the game plan. They’re a team that switch a lot on defense and I knew after I set a screen I had to roll hard to the basket and either I’ll have the ball against a mismatch or I’ll be in position to get an offensive rebound and that’s all I really tried to do.” That’s all Kravic tried to do which led to a 9/13 night from the field. Not bad. If you missed Dejan Kravic’s exclusive interview with The Sports Rabbi you can listen to it right here by clicking this link or on the player below.