“We have to keep our intensity and consistency for the rest of the championship” – Ioannis Kastritis, Hapoel Tel Aviv’s new coach looks ahead after win over Jerusalem, Reds vs Reds, Taking Positives, Getting Comfortable & Hard Work! Analysis, Quotes & More!

1) Is Hapoel Tel Aviv back on track with their new coach? Was Hapoel Jerusalem totally off because they had just played on Wednesday night? Well, it was a combination of both. Tel Aviv played arguably their best game of the season under new coach Ioannis Kastritis as 3 of their of 4 foreigners plus captain Tomer Ginat had their best games of the season. Was the performance due to the shock factor? “We have to keep our intensity and consistency for the rest of the championship,” Kastritis said. “We have a lot of work ahead. We didn’t have time to do many things this week but it’s natural to have a reaction after a change.” Tomer Ginat also chimed in on the change, “We could feel that there was a difference and we were more aggressive. This was a tough game with our new coach and we played aggressive ball and defended well. We have to make sure that it’s not just a one shot deal because of the new coach. Now we have a couple of weeks to practice and get ready for our next game. Everyone gave a lot and more than what they has given until now. We had good body language today and we have to continue this way.”

Dov Halickman Photography

2) Tel Aviv was definitely aggressive and showed much better body language, no question about that as they dominated Jerusalem. But what else was the key to victory? “Our defense,” big man Latavious Williams remarked. “We came out and played hard from the beginning and we made our shots. Mark Lyons made a lot of good plays during the game too. The whole week at practice we had been aggressive so we wanted to carry that over to the game. That’s how we started the game and we wanted to go all 4 quarters, the full forty minutes like that.” How will Tel Aviv now continue on their way? “We will go to practice and keep working and keep getting better.”

Dov Halickman Photography

3) I asked Coach Kastritis how he looked at the challenge of taking over a struggling team at this stage of the season as it’s never easy to come in to a situation where very few, if any changes can be made due to the fact that Tel Aviv has already used up all 8 foreigner slots, “It’s good that I am new on the team and I can see things fresh and from a new side. I knew most of the players and spoke to them. We know that the foreigners have great qualities as players as do the Israelis and I realized that they all have great character on and off the court. We have to work everyday and keep good relationships so we can stay all together and then we can be successful.”

Dov Halickman Photography

Back to Jerusalem and why they looked so flat on Friday afternoon. Was it the fact that they had just played Wednesday night, held a very short practice Thursday and just weren’t prepared? Coach Oded Katash didn’t want to use that as an excuse to the Reds poor play, “If you want to find an excuse then yes we didn’t have much time to prepare after the Champions League game on Wednesday night. But we also didn’t foul and everyone wasn’t aggressive enough, if it was one or two players I could handle it, but the whole team had no energy and they weren’t focused on the attack.” Katash also tried to take some positives out of his team’s abysmal performance, “Everything that happens we have to take the good things out of it. Maybe this was symbolic after clinching first place in the Champions League and ahead of the State Cup. We weren’t aggressive enough and didn’t have the assist numbers that we usually have.”

Dov Halickman Photography

Another point which Shelvin Mack made was that the team is still coming together with both himself and John Holland joining the team recently and there hadn’t been much time to practice with two games a week. Now with a week before the State Cup semifinal, the Reds have that chance to get back to the basics, “We are all aware of the changes going on in the team we still have to get comfortable which will happen over time. We have a positive mindset and we will continue to get better. We have the State Cup and Champions League playoffs coming up and we will also be fine once we get to the Israeli league playoffs. Me and my teammates are always hungry to win.”

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