Spirit & Energy on Defense: Jerualem downs Eilat in the South

Hapoel Jerusalem defeated an overmatched Hapoel Eilat Team 82-67 in a game that featured Startos Perperologou scoring 15 points in arguably his best game for the Reds while veteran guard Yotam Halperin dropped 14 points in the win. Jerome Dyson added 12 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds as Alen Omic added 11 points for the visitors. Amit Simhon chimed in with 13 points while a trio of players scored 10 points each for Eilat in the loss.

1) Stratos Perperologou played close to 28 minutes and scored 15 points in what was his best performance so far for his new team under Head Coach Fotis Katsikaris. That’s good news for Hapoel as they’ll need all hands on deck going forward especially when Kalin Lucas arrives and has to adjust to the system. The veteran Greek forward also spoke about the defensive game, “We were serious from the beginning and we played a good game especially defensively which was a goal. We didn’t play defense well at the start of the season and that’s what we have practiced the last few days and I think we have been getting better. We wanted to play with intensity at the beginning and we put a lot of pressure on them and we helped each other with the paint being full.”

Dov Halickman Photography

2) Head Coach Fotis Katsikaris also praised his team’s effort on defense which he knows will be key should Hapoel want to make noise in the EuroCup even a against an 0-4 team in Galatasaray, “Every game is important and I really liked how we played today. This started last Wednesday with the attitude that I’ve been talking about since day one as far as the spirit and energy in defense and we controlled the game from the beginning to end.” Katsikaris, “Each player had more responsibility against the ball and the helps, the rotation and defense helps make the team. I feel that the team differently over the last days as they are helping each other and pushing. Plus Terrence Kinsey is a key for us in the practice and games as he is very vocal and pushes everybody. We can improve no question about it on the rebounding, but I can say that I’m satisfied with the effort of the team.”

3) It was good to see Yotam Halperin play an effective role for the Reds with 14 points, none more important than a clutch 3-pointer after a timeout with the score 67-61 in favor of Hapoel but with Eilat on a role. The veteran guard’s 3 with 4:36 left in the game followed by Dyson’s lay up was in essence, game, set, match. Coach Katsikaris spoke about Halperin, “Yotam has a very high basketball IQ and we know that when we may be struggling he can give us a solution either by scoring or passing the ball or open our game. He played a lot of minutes which is good for him and good for us.” The modest Halperin said after the game, “It was an ok game, nothing special but we began well which is something that usually doesn’t happen but is important. We were able to stay ahead even after a tough 4th quarter. The defense is without a doubt why we won this game. We only gave up 29 points in the first half and that was the key for the whole story.” Dyson added, “We played a full game and the right way. We controlled the middle and we had to keep them out of the paint with their short pocket passes and run them off the 3 point line.“

Dov Halickman Photography

Let’s not fool ourselves to think that Jerusalem was by far the superior team in this match up. Eilat was extremely disorganized and shot poorly in the first half which was due to both poor shot selection and the Jerusalem defense. The Reds offense was not at its best and Austin Daye had an atrocious game with only 2 points on 1/8 shooting. Kinsey is still just coming back and although played hard is still a long way from being the TK that we know from last year. Jerusalem never got the separation that they needed as they could have been up easily by 20+ points at the end of the first half. They are most definitely still a work in process. Speaking to a veteran Eilat player after the game he told me that they are playing horribly and don’t have any sense of direction which doesn’t bode well for coach Meir Tapiro. I also spoke to young guard Amit Ebo who only played 12 minutes but should have played double that as he showed inspired play in the latter stages of the game, “We didn’t start off well and didn’t execute what Coach Meir Tapiro wanted. We were able to come back and showed character but it wasn’t enough. But I’m happy to show that an 18 year old can do well. The main goal is to play and that’s what I showed today and I want to continue to play, that’s what is most important to me now.”

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