The Israel State Cup semifinals will be front and center on Thursday evening as Hapoel Jerusalem will play Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion in the first clash beginning at 18:30 at the Drive In Arena in Tel Aviv.
The two head coaches Dainius Adomaitis and Guy Goodes along with veteran players Idan Zalmanson and Nimrod Tishman respectively from Jerusalem and Rishon spoke about the upcoming challenge that both teams are facing especially as the pair have struggled recently.
Jerusalem come into the clash after falling twice in their last two league games while also losing in the Champions League and Balkan League which ousted them from the competition. In addition, guard Chris Kramer suffered an injury that will keep him out of action for an extended period of time adding to the Reds issues entering the contest.
“We are coming into the State Cup match after a few bad games but we have a good group of guys and we will lay it all out on the line,” began Zalmanson. “We know the importance of the game, and the biggest challenge for us to get everyone on the same page. We feel that we are improving and in one game anything can happen, we will come in with the right mental state.”
“After our last loss we had a talk between the players and we are looking at this as a key game to change our season and at Jerusalem we fight for titles. It’s a knockout game and we have a long history with Rishon, but we do see this as super critical for us to turnaround our campaign.”
Coach Adomaitis explained that in order to get things going for Jerusalem, practice will be key, “The most important thing is to make improvements in every practice and we will give it all for 40 minutes. Basketball is simple, if you want to make changes you have to practice and the details as to how we execute them. We have spent time in the practices on these things but what worries me most is that we have to many ups and downs in the games, it’s a process and I believe in the guys. We need to change some of our bad game minutes to good ones.
“As for the injury to Chris, basketball games are 5 on 5 and we have to put the injuries aside and play without him. This is the reality of the sport and we have players who have played already in these types of games and I think we will be fine as we know the importance of the game.”
Veteran guard Nimrod Tishman has been a part of Rishon Le’Zion for a number of years and understands the magnitude of the game for the club as they, “We may not be in the best shape, but we know how to put things aside and look ahead to the Cup. We have been in these types of games over the past few years and I hope that with that experience we can use that to our advantage and despite being an underdog there are always surprises in cup games.”
As for the wine city squad’s coach Guy Goodes, he feels that the team can put aside any past issues and move ahead without a problem, “This is a big challenge and we know that we have to play 40 minutes. Despite the issues we have had this season we are putting everything aside to do the best we can and play our best basketball. We have to come in mentally focussed each and every one of us. Jerusalem has some advantages over us in certain positions but we will know tomorrow for certain if we can flip the switch.”