Time to rip off the interim tag from coach Yotam Halperin who happens to be in the right place at the right time to lead Jerusalem

Dec 7, 2021 | Holyland Hoops

Hapoel Jerusalem arguably put together their best game of the season earlier this week as they demolished Pinar Karsiyaka in Turkey by 20-points, 85-65 in a dominant performance. Interim coach Yotam Halperin has done wonders since taking over behind the Reds bench for Oren Amiel who has since found employment with Bamberg in the German BBL League, and looks to continue his winning ways not only in Europe but domestically as well.

The victory not only kept Jerusalem’s Champions League chances alive and well, it also gave them the opportunity to take one of the two automatic places in their group to advance to the second round despite sporting a 2-3 record overall. In two weeks, the Reds will play at Manresa and a win in Spain would most probably do the trick and avoid having Halperin’s team have to participate in the play-in tournament by finishing the group stage in third place or even worse being eliminated from the competition altogether.

Halperin, who was thrust into the role after moving down to the sidelines from the front office was selected in the second round of the 2006 NBA Draft by the then Seattle SuperSonics and has always been ahead of the curve both on the floor and off of it as well. While he never did make it over the ocean to play in the world’s greatest league, the 37-year old former point guard had a storied career as a player and it now seems that he has started off on the right track as a coach after spending the last couple of seasons as the team’s Sports Director.

Yotam Halperin – Photo Credit: Basketball Champions League

Born in Tel Aviv, Halperin began his basketball career with Maccabi Tel Aviv as he helped lead the youth club to back-to-back titles in 2001 and 2002 while also having made his senior team debut at the age of 17 during the 2001/2002 campaign. After capturing a pair of Euroleague titles with the yellow-and-blue, Halperin moved to Slovenia to play with Union Olimpija and then returned to Maccabi for another two years before heading out to Europe once again.

Next up were three seasons with Greek powerhouse Olympiacos followed by a year a piece with Spartak St. Petersburg and Bayern Munich before he returned to Israel where he signed to play with Hapoel Jerusalem from 2013-2018. With the Reds, Halperin helped captain the club to its first two Israeli League titles in 2015 and 2017.

Right before the start of the 2018 campaign Halperin announced his retirement as an active player and headed up to Jerusalem’s front office where he remained until Amiel was dismissed earlier this season.

Since then all he’s been able to do is win by going 4-1 in domestic action and 2-0 in Champions League play, but most importantly the players themselves have bought into Halperin being the steadying force, the man in charge and the one who can guide the team to the promised land.

Retin Obasohan – Photo Credit: Champions League

With the team buying in to Halperin’s methodology it was clear that against Karsiyaka, Jerusalem knew exactly what they needed to do as they played almost perfect basketball. Smooth passes, proper cuts, screens and handoffs working like a well-oiled machine. Jerusalem finally looked like a team winning in a very, very hostile Turkish environment.

It’s clear that Halperin who has all of his coaching licenses should have interim tag removed and removed swiftly as he has earned the trust of the players and fans alike.

With Jerusalem playing their best basketball of the season and in first place in the Israeli league, management should take the next step in righting the ship which has been off course since the start of the pandemic back in march of 2020. Not only do they need to officially appoint Halperin as its next coach but they also must finish cleaning up the roster and off load players who he feels are not and won’t be able to contribute while bringing in a player or two to help bolster the efforts.

Thon Maker has barely seen the floor since joining the team during the offseason, while Anthony Bennett is not playing enough minutes to warrant a roster spot when Jerusalem needs to add players who can make an impact, especially foreigners whose role is to upgrade the roster.

Su Braimoh – Photo Credit: Basket.co.il

The club brought back forward Suleiman Braimoh who had played with Jerusalem for the past two seasons after beginning the campaign with San Pablo Burgos and made an impact almost immediately with his desire and effort. But Braimoh is not enough should Jerusalem really want to take that next push which they are right at the doorstep from doing.

With Halperin doing a terrific job thus far, there is no reason to look outside of the organization or outside of the box. Sign him up for the balance of the season, see how things go and allow him the bandwidth to make the necessary moves in order for the Reds to succeed.

Anyone who has watched the club religiously over the past number of years can see that Halperin has all of the ingredients to handle the role and that he is in the right place at the right time.

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