Hapoel Jerusalem downed Nahariya 91-82 to get their domestic league campaign off to a good start. Tamir Blatt and Tashawn Thomas starred for the Reds as the pair teamed up to score crucial baskets down the stretch including an incredible alleyoop slam to notch the season opening victory. Oded Katash’s squad will now ready for their second Basketball Champions League game on Wednesday against Limoges.
Thomas scored 19 points and grabbed 9 rebounds, Tamir Blatt added 18 points and 10 assists, Idan Zalmanson chipped in with 13 points while Adam Ariel scored a quartet of triples for 12 points in the win. Devon Scott led Nahariya with 22 points and 9 boards, Kalin Lucas added 20 points while Jaron Blossomgame scored 12 points in the defeat.
Adam Ariel got Jerusalem started of with a pair of triples while Tamir Blatt added one as well but Jaron Blossomgame’s points inside and outside kept Nahariya in the mix down 14-13 midway through the first quarter. Tashawn Thomas and Devon Scott trades baskets while Joe Alexander operated in the paint for Danny Franco’s squad but Adi Cohen Saban an Blatt with layups and Idan Zalmanson with a baseline jumper put the hosts up 26-19 after ten minutes.
Suleiman Braimoh got busy for Oded Katash’s team while Kalin Lucas got busy for Nahariya with a two 3-pointers to pull his side to within 2-points, 29-27 with 6:44 remaining in the second quarter. Blatt hit a jumper, Zalmanson scored over Niv Misgav, then nailed a fadeaway jumper and blocked a shot under the basket leading to points by Tarik Phillip to bump the Reds lead up to 39-30 with 3:54 to go in the half. Ariel kept hitting from long distance with two from deep and Thomas scored inside to give Jerusalem a 47-36 advantage at the break.
Blossomgame, Lucas and Scott began to chip away at the Jerusalem lead but Thomas with a thundering dunk and Blatt from deep kept the Reds in the lead 55-45 midway through the third quarter. Braimoh and Philip scored for Jerusalem inside but Lucas, Scott and Or Leumi with a triple kept Nahariya hanging around down 65-57 after thirty minutes.
Chris Kramer scored a 3-pointer and Braimoh found points in the paint but Leumi nailed a shot from beyond the arc and Scott scored inside and then outside to cut the Jerusalem lead to 72-71 with 6:30 left in regulation. Thomas put in points, Blatt and Kramer scored their free throws but Misgav did as well to keep the score within 1-point, 80-79 with 2:14 remaining in the fourth quarter. Blatt fed Thomas for a massive alley-oop, then Blatt hit a deep two at the end of the shot clock and Phillip went from downtown as well as Jerusalem wrapped up a 91-82 victory.
1) Tamir Blatt and Tashawn Thomas. Tashawn Thomas and Tamir Blatt. What a dynamite combination! It doesn’t get better than the monster alleyoop they teamed up for in the fourth quarter. The pair have been playing for many years together beginning in Holon a number of seasons ago and are very used to playing off each other, it’s as if one knows where the other is even if they would have been blindfolded. Blatt spoke about their relationship on the court, “This is our fourth season together, just like 4 years in college, playing with Tashawn Thomas and I love playing with him, we have great chemistry together.”
2) As for the game itself, Coach Oded Katash was pleased with his team’s performance, “It all starts with defense. When we’re focused we know how to grab the rebounds and battle on the boards. We had some foul problems and various injuries but we will have to learn how to deal with them. As time goes by the players will continue to get into better playing shape.” Blatt was also happy with the win but made a point of stating that he wanted to enjoy being on the court, “We prepared well and we made the correct decisions down the stretch. I came into the game aggressive right from the get go and I wanted to enjoy myself. I’ve been trying to enjoy myself more on the floor but it’s not that easy without fans.” Perhaps Blatt had been pressing of late and that’s why some of his performances had been lacking, just a thought but when one enjoys and lets go on the court good things happen. He released the pressure and that’s a good sign especially with a big Champions League game coming up against Limoges, which will be a totally different ball game.
3) Credit to Danny Franco who came oh so close to stealing the win. Nahariya hung around and hung around and hung around all game long cutting the Jerusalem lead to just one point, 80-79 with 2:14 to go. He had the Reds right where he wanted them, but then it was bang with the alley-top by Thomas, Blatt hit a deep deuce at the end of the shot and was fouled (questionably) which set off Franco which resulted in a quick technical and the game was done. Franco wasn’t too happy with how things went down at the end of the game and perhaps rightfully so, “I’m not upset and I’m not one to offend the referees, but with a minute to go when a foul like that is called I said ‘check out the highlights on TV later’. To get called for that is like knifing the team in the back.”
Hapoel Gilboa Galil dropped Hapoel Tel Aviv 88-68 in the Galilee in a game that was never close as hosts opened up a 44-27 lead at halftime and never looked back. Iftach Ziv scored 15 points and dished out 6 assists while Kerry Blackshear added 15 points and 7 rebounds in the win. For Tel Aviv, Talib Zanna scored 15 points and Walter Lemon chipped in with 13 points in the loss.
Hapoel Beer Sheva blew out Maccabi Haifa 102-61 by the Carmel Mountain. Caleb Agada went off for 28 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists, Eric Griffin went for 22 points and Travis Warech scored 20 points for coach Rami Hadar on his birthday.
Nes Ziona mounted a late game comeback to defeat Bnei Herzliya 80-74. Brad Greenberg’s squad used a 28-11 final frame to take their first victory of the season as Patrick Miller (19p/6a), Kwan Cheatham (18p/9R) along with veterans Tal Dunne (16p/8r) and Raviv Limonad (8p/5a) came through in crunch time. Frank Gaines led all scorers with 27 points but it wasn’t enough for Sharon Drucker’s team on this night.