“Shelvin was excellent today, that’s why he’s here” Katash on Mack as Jerusalem beats Peristeri under the pale of Cornonavirus and behind closed doors in Champions League action! Emanuel Terry’s debut, the keys to victory, Analysis & more!

1) The big story at Jerusalem’s 91-78 win over Peristeri in Champions League playoff action was obviously the fact that the game was played behind closed doors and with no fans due to the Israeli government’s Coronavirus regulations not allowing more than 5000 people to attend a gathering. The atmosphere was strange, players could be heard talking to each other on the court while the coaches screaming on the sidelines was hard to miss. The ball echoed each time it was bounced on the court as the few club employees and family members cheered on from the stands in the empty arena. “That was weird one to play without our home crowd,” said Jerusalem coach Oded Katash. “I was worried about that because we need our energy and the players feed off of our fans. who are very important for the players especially in a critical game. I told the players at the half that the fact that there are no fans can’t let it affect them.”

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James Feldeine also chimed in about having to play in front of an empty arena, “It was tough playing without our fans as they give us a lot of energy. Warming up was hard also, but we knew that they were watching us on TV and that helped us along the way.”

Jerusalem big man Tashawn Thomas shared his thoughts on the situation, “It definitely felt different because whenever you play in a big game you want to have the crowd behind you. When you play a big game you imagine the crowd going crazy but it felt like a scrimmage. I’m glad that we played together as a team and I made sure that the bench cheered each other on as they took the place of the fans in the game.”

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“It wasn’t that bad,” said Jerusalem’s new recruit Emanuel Terry. “The support was out there. There was love out there on the court.”

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Peristeri coach Nikos Papanikolopoulos explained how he felt without any fans in the stands. “We were anxious to play in a full gym with the fans. The situation mostly effected the home team. All in all it’s strange to play without fans.”

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2) Shelvin Mack was just superb. The former NBA guard has taken a huge step up in his level of play since the Reds league game at Holon less than a week ago. Mack took charge when he came off of the bench in the first quarter when he replaced Tamir Blatt and became the floor general that Oded Katash was hoping to see. He took control of the game whether its as slashing to the basket, dishing off the ball or just managing the game and the Jerusalem possessions. With 15 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds, Mack was spectacular. “Shelvin was excellent today and that’s why he’s here,” said Katash. “It takes time to get into the team but he is adjusting and he’s never played European ball. I’m very happy what he was able to do for us.” Feldeine shared his thoughts on Mack, “With the injury to Tamir Blatt, we needed him as he’s a veteran. He’s an aggressive and smart player and his numbers were great for a point guard. He really was great and was able to really adjust to our system of play.” Tashawn Thomas who was familiar with Mack before he joined the team also complimented the Butler product, “Mack is a basketball player and he has been doing it for a while. Everyone trusts him to do what he does.” Finally Mack himself was very modest about his performance, “I’m just getting better every day.”

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3) Peristeri played Jerusalem very tight as Katash mentioned before and kept close until the end of the third quarter when the Greek team ran out of gas. Nikos Papanikolopoulos’s team had trouble getting it going at the start of the final frame and that as that as Jerusalem bumped up they lead to double digits, “It’s hard to come back against high level teams. We didn’t stop them and their guards hurt us but it’s a series and the next game is back in Greece.” DeAndre Kane who made his return to Israel had this to say about the game that was, “Jerusalem protected home court and the game slipped away from us in the third quarter, but it’s a series and we have the next game at home.” Feldeine also shared his thoughts, “We played three good quarters but the second quarter hurt us. We brought it defensively in the second half and we made it tough on them keeping their best shooter in check.” Finally Katash said plain and simple, “Our second half defense is what made the difference.”

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Emanuel Terry made his Jerusalem debut and got his feet wet playing 15 minutes while scoring 5 points and 3 rebounds. The Reds new center was happy to join the club and make a good impression in his first game while improving over time as Feldeine explained, “He messed up a few defensive things we talked about but he’s been here just two days. He gives us that rim attack like Josh Owens did and it’s good we don’t have to play against him.” Thomas continued the thought of Terry coming in and bringing was Owens did to the team last campaign, “He helped out a lot and we did a good job on the boards today. My world changed goths year as I was playing the five but now I can play the four again and now I can bring the best from last year and this year.” Terry himself spoke about his performance, “Good win and first win. The team played well and we stepped it up. I was a little shaky at first but I try to bring more energy to help the team.”

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There is a lot of talk about what is going to happen to both the European competitions as well as the domestic leagues with many countries restricting movement due to the Coronavirus. Israel is instructing anyone that has returned from a number of countries to go into self quarantine and that includes Italy, Spain, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and others. How will a Spanish team come to Israel to play a Champions League playoff game? On the domestic side, with a limit of up to 5,000 fans, Sunday’s Jerusalem vs Maccabi Tel Aviv game is in doubt, however, many other games can theoretically take place as most arenas don’t even hold close to 5,000 people. But no one knows if the restrictions will get tighter and tighter as the days go by. “We don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Feldeine. We have to take it day by day and see what the Champions League decides.” He also commented about the upcoming league game against Maccabi, “It will be hard to play it and maybe they will postpone it as everyone wants to be at the game.” Thomas also spoke about the situation, “I’m not worried at all you got to take the blows everyone gets excited in Israel because it’s Jerusalem and Maccabi, but we will have to see.”

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