Hapoel Jerusalem defeated Nahariya 88-82 in the northern city to win their 9th league game in a row and up their league record to 12-1. The Reds used a 24-17 fourth quarter to complete the comeback and pick up the victory at Ein Sara in a game that saw new recruit John Holland, who was wearing number 23, make a successful debut with 9 points, 4 rebounds and 4 steals in 26 minutes of action.
Tashawn Thomas led the way with 18 points for Oded Katash’s squad, J’Covan Brown added 16 points while Idan Zalmanson and Tamir Blatt each dropped 10 points in the victory. Dominic Waters had arguably his best game this campaign with 26 points and 9 assists but fouled out in the final frame as Egor Koulechov notched 16 points in the loss.
Egor Koulechov opened the game with a pair of triples for Nahariya while Idan Zalmanson scored a trio of baskets for Jerusalem to keep the game close early. Dominic Waters and Itay Segev scored half a dozen points a piece for the hosts as Tashawn Thomas dropped seven but Nahariya held a slim 3-point 27-24 lead after ten minutes of action.
Travis Warech and Koulechov increased the Nahariya lead to 33-28 midway through the second quarter as Waters continued to dish out assists raising his game total to 8. But new recruit John Holland hit a triple and Bat Timor a layup however, Tony Gaffney scored a jumper to give Danny Franco’s squad a 43-42 advantage at halftime.
Waters hit a pair of jumpers and free throws while Jerel McNeal also scored to open up a 56-48 lead with six minutes remaining in the third quarter. Tamir Blatt drained free throws as well as a jumper and Holland scored a corner 3-pointer but a pair of Eyal Shulaman free throws kept Nahariya in front 65-64 after thirty minutes of play.
Thomas scored a layup, Holland out down a dunk and J’Covan Brown drilled a triple to give Oded Katash’s squad 71-68 lead just two minutes into the fourth quarter. Zalmanson, Thomas, James Feldeine and Brown all scored points while Waters continued on his scoring spree until fouling out late in the game but the Reds kept the game under control as they recorded an 88-82 victory.
1) John Holland was solid in his debut for the Reds and played 26 minutes which was third most on the team just behind James Feldeine who clocked in with 28 and Tashawn Thomas who played 27. The Bronx, NY native looked very fluid with his new teammates and is definitely and asset on the offensive side of the ball. “Holland was excellent,” said Idan Zalamnson following the victory. “He’s a very positive guy and was able to very quickly understand how we play. He will help us a lot and we’re very happy that he is with us.” Holland also spoke about his first game under coach Oded Katash, “It was good and I am trying to get adjusted to my new teammates and new situation. I think we did a good job, got a tough win and it was an emotional game.” What does the Boston University product bring to the table? “I’m just trying to do whatever the team needs. Defense, rebound or shooting, I’m here for whatever the team needs and to bring energy.”
2) Nahariya played much, much better this time around against Jerusalem than the last time the two met in the Capital City. Danny Franco did a terrific job getting the most out of his players especially Dominic Waters who was almost unstoppable. In fact, the only person that was able to stop the guard was himself when he fouled out and also lost his focus when he continuously went after Jerusalem players for one reason or another. Waters was spectacular hitting shot after shot (9/13) dish out helper after helper (9) and knocked down all of his free throws (5/5) but his performance just came up short of upsetting the Reds. “There was a lot of emotions in this game and it turned very aggressive closer to the end,” explained Katash. “Waters did a lot of damage and it took us 3 quarters to understand what Nahariya was trying to do and to finally stop him.” Suleiman Braimoh who was one of Waters’ targets also commented about the matchup, “I definitely had a dream about him!”
3) Katash’s crew headed out to Germany this morning for a date with Rasta Vechta in Champions League action. After three road losses in a row to Elan, San Burgos and most recently to AEK, the Reds must get back onto the winning track and fast in continental play or else they will suffer the same fate that they did last season. With a 6-3 record and in second place behind the 7-2 AEK, there are a number of teams breathing down their necks including the German squad who are 5-4. “They have a made some changes and this is not a simple road game,” said Coach Katash. “We have two difficult road games in a very intensive short period of time and we have some players who are injured in addition to a new player. We have plenty of challenges in front of us and in order for us to win we will need to show a lot of character.” Holland who is getting up to speed in European play also chimed in, “We need to continue to play hard, do a better job executing and play defense.”
With Isaiah Cousins departing for Greece, Jerusalem will be in the market for another guard as Katash will need to maneuver through some of these changes. “This isn’t an ideal situation, but I know that we aren’t the only team that is dealing with these types of issues. This is part of the challenge that needs to be dealt with. We need a decision maker with size and a guard that has defensive prowess. But I know that this type of player will be hard to find.”