Hapoel Jerusalem picked up where they left off back in March with a win as they defeated Hapoel Gilboa Galil 96-87. The Galilee squad kept the contest tight throughout the 40 minutes but John Holland’s clutch scoring and Tamir Blatt’s floor generalship were able to give Oded Katash’s team the 9 point exhibition game victory.
Blatt with 13 points and 11 assists led the way for the capital city Reds while Emanuel Terry added 13 points and 12 rebounds making up for Tashawn Thomas’s absence, John Holland dropped 16 points while Deividas Sirvydis chipped in with 11 points and 4 boards in an impressive Jerusalem debut.
Joe Thomasson led the way for the northerners with 16 points while Amit Gershon went 3/4 from deep for 14 points and Michael Young added 14 points of his own in the defeat.
1) All in all we witnessed a fun game with plenty of action, but obviously there was a bit of rust as well which isn’t a surprise when you haven’t played a competitive game since March. Coach Oded Katash spoke about getting back into the swing of things, “We were missing a ball handler and we were a bit rusty but next week we will have Jeremy Pargo with us. We are trying to get back into shape and I believe other teams are in the same situation but we have time to get better and fix things up. It’s not simple as we are missing two excellent players.” Tamir Blatt also spoke about getting back to business, “It’s always great to play and we haven’t played for a number of months which is the most I think that I haven’t played. I was at home and I kept in shape, ate well and I’m happy to be back.”
John Holland who led Jerusalem in scoring told The Sports Rabbi he was thrilled to get back on the court, “It felt good to be back. This was the first game In a couple months and I feel like everybody was a little rusty but being on the court again was fun. You don’t realize how much of a blessing it is until it’s taken away from you. Now that I’m back I cherish it even more.” Finally, Emanuel Terry who notched a double-double and will play a big factor for the stretch run also chimed in, “It feels great to be back on the court doing what I love, We as a team have prepared for weeks for the challenges we have to face here day in and day out. Overall fun.” You’ve got to love it!
2) One of the most impressive displays was that of Jerusalem’s newest addition Deividas Sirvydas who just came over last month from Rytas Vilnius. The Lithuanian swingman’s NBA rights belong to the Detroit Pistons after having been selected 37th overall in the 2019 Draft by the Dallas Mavericks and is slated to join the greatest league in the world in the near future. But before he does, Sirvydas will be gracing the courts in Israel and of his 11 point performance was any indication, he will be not a only a valuable asset for Oded Katash but will also provide a bit of a different feel to Jerusalem’s basketball.
“He’s a great guy and very positive,” said Katash following the game, “He’s going to help us, he’s a quick learner and very talented. He will play on Sunday and help our rotation.” Holland also spoke about his new teammate, “Deveidas has been showing his talent since he arrived and I think everyone got to see it this afternoon. He’s a great kid. Very willing to listen and learn so I have no doubt he’s going to be very successful here.” Terry, who joined the team right before the Basketball Champions discussed his new teammate, “That’s my guy. First and foremost he has been practicing well and has been locked in with our system. I’m very happy he performed well and is a part of the team. I feel the sky is the limit for him.” That’s not a bad first impression and as they say, you only have one opportunity to make a good first impression. It looks like Sirvydas has done exactly that.
3) Joe Thomasson is a player, plain and simple. The Dayton, Ohio native poured in 16 points and added 6 assists for Hapoel Gilboa Galil in 27 minutes of action but it just wasn’t the stats that were impressive, its as just the way he handled the ball thought the game for Lior Lubin’s team. The guard played for Wright State his Junior and Senior seasons and then featured for one season in the G-League with the Erie Bayhawks. Thomasson then went aboard to Romania for a year and for the past three campaigns he played in Poland, most recently with Stelmet Zielona Gora where he notched 10.7 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists in the domestic league as well as the VTB League. The VTB League is one of the best in the world with the likes of CSKA, Khimki and Zenit who all play in the Euroleague as well as Kazan, Kuban and Parma. Thomasson took a big step up last season and he will now try to continue to climb the ladder with Hapoel Gilboa Galil for the next six weeks. “Today was great,” he told The Sports Rabbi. “I had fun and I learned from today’s loss. I think I have a chance to be a great player in this league.” And that’s what these exhibition games are all about, having some fun and learning.