We believed: Obasohan, Bennett lead Halperin’s Jerusalem to inspiring one-sided win

Nov 1, 2021 | Holyland Hoops

You could have written the script to this game hours prior to tip-off. New coach, lots of energy, opposing team that forgot to show up from the get go and what do you have? A 104-84 Hapoel Jerusalem blowout win over Hapoel Holon.

It was really as simple as that, nothing more and nothing less.

The Reds parted ways with head coach Oren Amiel last Thursday and appointed sports director Yotam Halperin as the interim bench boss which out everyone on notice and gave the team an extra sense of urgency to show up and show up like a team on a mission.

“I’m happy about the win and I have to say that I have a lot of mixed feelings as the club went through a lot this week,” Halperin said following the game. “Whoever hasn’t been a player or a coach will never understand what it’s like. I’m very happy as to how the players came into the game, but again it is very hard on me that we had to part ways with a good person as his responsibility was not just his but all of us.”

Photo Credit: Basket.co.il

Speaking of responsibility, Maurizio Buscaglia’s squad showed a lack of that and played right into Jerusalem’s plans. Holon was the perfect compliment to what the capital city side wanted to do and were nowhere to be found falling asleep at the wheel knowing full well what was about to hit them and hit them hard, very, very hard.

“It’s not easy to talk about the game because it was a punch in the face,” the Purples bench boss said following the contest. “We didn’t play the way that we can. There was a different feeling on the floor and there was one team on the floor and it wasn’t mine.”

Jerusalem was the aggressor from the first minute and although there was a moment when Holon pulled even at 60-60, the Reds pulled away again for good, leaving Holon in the rear view mirror in a game that it never quite felt that the visitors were going to win.

“We chased after them the entire game, every little run we had took a lot out of us,” Holon point guard Niv Misgav explained. “We didn’t begin the game aggressively and that put us in the situation where we were playing from behind the entire game.”

Itay Segev – Photo Credit: Basket.co.il

Jerusalem big man Itay Segev also indicated that the team brought a lot of effort and were ready to roll right from the tip, “We played really well and our shots went in, our aggressiveness and the way we executed were all there. We played well under the basket against some of the best bigs that Holon has. Even when they tied up the game, we didn’t break and we were able to pull away again.”

The player who paced Jerusalem and filled the basket right off the bat was interestingly enough the one player that Oren Amiel was able to take with from Nymburk, Retin Obasohan who must have experienced many emotions since his departure late last week.

Retin Obasohan – Photo Credit: Basket.co.il

But yet it was Obasohan who with 30 points, going 4/4 from deep along with 8 assists while drawing 8 fouls and producing a massive 44 efficiency rating was the motor that made Jerusalem go under Halperin. The Belgian guard proved once again that he is the consummate professional, whether it was being one of the first players in Jerusalem during the off season to the player who took the bull by the horns and set the stage and the tone for the big time win.

“Retin is a blessing for every club and coach,” Jerusalem interim coach Yotam Halperin explained. “He is a great player, a winner and an amazing person to be with on a day to day basis. He had a tough week and he still doesn’t have a lot of experience. I explained to him that in sports many things can happen and you have to be ready to deal with every situation.”

Yotam Halperin – Photo Credit: Basket.co.il

Obasohan emotionally spoke about Amiel following the game, “Oren was a great coach and I know that he is watching this game. I love him because without him I wouldn’t be here. I am proud as to how we battled. We love the game and each other.”

Anthony Bennett, who had been much maligned by Amiel, played arguably his best game of the season and was a force from the beginning of the clash as Halperin gave him a spot in the starting lineup and he repaid his faith 10-fold with 14 points going 4/5 from beyond the arc and 6 boards.

Anthony Bennett – Photo Credit: Basket.co.il

“I feel that we can all play together if we move the ball and take care of a couple of things on defense,” the former #1 selection in the 2013 NBA Draft said. “That is what we have been preaching all year just to get out there and run and share the ball. It translated well today.”

It wasn’t as if Jerusalem made a tremendous amount of changes since the defeat in Poland but the changes that were made were significant and that was all around the mental side of the game.

“He (Halperin) just prepared us real well for this game and I’m not saying he did a lot of things different and I’m not saying that he changed up the whole offense. We came in with the mindset that whatever happened off of the court that’s for them to decide and we still have to do our job on the court. That is the mentality that we all had to win this game and will have going forward,” Bennett said.

“The difference is that we believed” Obasohan stated. “When things don’t go the way that you want them to it’s hard to believe in the process. We have to work hard every day no matter what. Halperin inspired us.”

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