“The biggest challenge will be on the mental side of the game” Oded Katash looks ahead to the postseason & reflects on Jerusalem’s 102-67 win over Holon; Rishon downs Maccabi Tel Aviv ahead of playoffs

Hapoel Jerusalem steamrolled Hapoel Holon 102-67 as the Reds will enter the playoffs in second place and will find out who their opponent is on Monday night as they will play the 7th place team. Hapoel Holon will finish the regular season in 4th and will face the 5th place team which will be determined on Monday night as well.

The Reds dominated play from the get go and cruised to the 35-point victory. Nimrod Levi led Jerusalem with 16 points, Bar Timor added 14 points while Emanuel Terry scored 12 points grabbed 12 rebounds and was a plus 37 on the night. Jimmy Hall was the high scorer for Holon with 20 points in the loss.

Dov Halickman Photography

Jerusalem jumped out quickly as Idan Zalmanson did the damage inside while John Holland and Nimrod Levi worked from the outside as the Reds grabbed a 32-22 lead after ten minutes. Shavon Coleman cut the Jerusalem lead early in the second quarter but James Feldeine, Su Braimoh and Emanuel Terry kept Oded Katash’s squad ahead 56-38 at halftime.

Dov Halickman Photography

Bar Timor began the third quarter with 6 straight Jerusalem points as the Reds continued to pour on the offense as Levi and also found the bottom of the bucket to take a 86-54 lead into the final frame. There was no stopping Jerusalem in the 4th quarter as they ran away with the 102-67 victory.

Dov Halickman Photography

1) Hapoel Jerusalem blew away Holon in a game that was never ever even close. Jerusalem led 17-2 after 3 minutes and never looked back as Oded Katash’s team just kept increasing the lead quarter by quarter. How important was the win for the Reds? “This was important for our confidence,” explained Reds center Idan Zalmanson. “We wanted to come in and play quality basketball ahead of the playoffs. I’m happy that we were able to do so and now we will prepare for the postseason.” The big man isn’t concerned that the team may not come into the playoffs in the correct mental state, “I think we proved that we come to play in the big games both in Europe and in league play, I am sure everyone will come in focused.”

Dov Halickman Photography

2) With 7 games now under their belt since returning from the coronavirus break, Katash will need to make sure that the team is ready to roll into the playoffs in what will be a best of 3 quarterfinals series which is something the team hasn’t faced in the Israeli league in recent memory. Should a team lose the first game, their backs will be right against the wall off the bat with no margin for error. What will be the biggest challenge? Jerusalem center Emanuel Terry shared his thoughts with The Sports Rabbi, “Our biggest challenge I would say is maintaining our style of play which isn’t a hard task. We have great players and great coaches that put us in the right position to be successful and it’s our job as players to fulfill that. We play great basketball when we are locked in, and bringing of course the energy, we do that we have a great chance to be the last team standing in my opinion.” Oded Katash also chimed in on the challenge ahead, “It’s the mental side. The playoffs will be very close and tough, more than people think especially teams that have changed foreign players. The biggest test will be to find the passion. We saw that in the Hapoel Tel Aviv and Nahariya game how physical and intense a battle it was and we also saw that in other countries that some teams surprised the favorites. We have to come ready to go and the biggest challenge is to come in mentally strong.” And what did Idan Zalmanson think? “We have to make sure to play our style of basketball for the full 40 minutes and be intense and aggressive and play quality basketball.”

Dov Halickman Photography

3) How about Holon? They have not looked good and lost all 6 games in the championship playoffs and will now face either Hapoel Gilboa Galil or Maccabi Haifa in the quarterfinals. What will coach Amit Sherf need to do with his team who will have Yogev Ohayon back for the playoffs? “We have to make sure we know what our goal is with every possession both offensively and defensively. We are coming into the playoffs after 6 straight losses and we want to win the first game on Friday.” Sherf also answered the question if the club would have been better off playing in the lower have of the playoffs, “This is a tough question and one that we have thought about a lot but all in all we preferred to be in the championship playoffs which features the best and most aggressive teams. It’s not easy to go into the playoffs after 6 straight losses by such large margins but I still wouldn’t change anything.”

Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion shocked Maccabi Tel Aviv 86-77 to defeat the yellow-and-blue for the second time in ten days. The defeat was Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad’s first on home court in domestic league action this season as they will now ready to open the playoffs at Yad Eliyahu on Saturday night. Guy Goodes’s center Zach Hankins once again bested the Maccabi duo of Othello Hunter and Amare Stoudemire as the big man led the way with 18 points, while D’Angelo Harrison notched a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists and Adam Ariel dropped 13 points in the win. Yovel Zoosman recorded his season high with 18 points, Angelo Caloiaro added 16 points and Deni Avdija chipped in with 15 points and 10 rebounds in the defeat.

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