Hapoel Jerusalem squashed Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion 88-73 in a game that didn’t live up to its billing. Rishon Le’Zion began the contest strong, but an 18-0 run by Jerusalem to end the first quarter sent the Reds on their way to the blowout win. John Holland led the way with 18 points, Nimrod Levi added 13 points and 8 rebounds, Bar Timor chipped in with 12 points, while Jeremy Pargo scored 11 points and dished out 8 assists. Zach Hankins led Rishon with 17 points and youngster Noam Dovrat added 14 points in the loss.
Rishon Le’Zion jumped all over Jerusalem as Noam Dovrat picked up where he left off from Thursday’s win over Maccabi and drilled home two triples but John Holland with 11 points led the Reds on an 18-0 run to end the first quarter and take a 26-17 lead.
James Feldeine and Jeremy Pargo started to heat up for Jerusalem while Dovrat countered for Rishon, but Oded Katash’s squad broke away to increase their advantage to 55-37 after twenty minutes of action.
Jerusalem maintained serve in the third quarter as Nimrod Levi scored at will to give Jerusalem a 75-51 lead heading into the final frame. Baskets by Oz Blayzer, Nimrod Tishman and Zach Hankins chipped into the Jerusalem lead, but it was too little, too late as the visitors wrapped up a 15 point victory and remained undefeated against Rishon Le’Zion this season.
1) Well, the game that we thought we were going to get never quite materialized. Rishon took a nice lead early on as Noam Dovrat continued his fine play from the win over Maccabi but that was where the game ended. Oded Katash’s team went on an 18-0 run to end the frame and that was that in what was one of the most lopsided games that I had witnessed this year. Granted Guy Goodes didn’t have Alex Hamilton playing due to injury and Jerusalem rested Tamir Blatt, the game should have been a bit more competitive. Was Katash surprised? “When you see that Rishon strengthened their team over the break you don’t expect such an easy game, but it’s still hard to judge games at this point. We can take the 15 minutes that we only gave up 20 points and that is what won us the game. Offensively we passed the ball well, we played at a good pace and I felt that we played together compared to the Holon game.”
2) Both Jeremy Pargo and Emanuel Terry are getting into the swing of things and this was a point that Katash had spoken about a couple of weeks ago; that it would take time for them to get the system of play. However, it seems that both are getting more comfortable by the game. Katash spoke about Pargo’s learning curve, “I’m happy that with more minutes, Pargo is understanding more and more what is expected and that he is also learning the team. But we still need to learn his game as well.” As for Emanuel Terry he reflected on how he is progressing, “As for filling in fro Tashwan Thomas, I can feel the energy of the cub and we are all improving day by day. Since I arrived everyone has helped me learn the mechanics of my game and I am learning every day. I’m a professional and my teammates are helping me adjust. I know my role and I am happy to be a part of this team.”
3) Once Rishon went behind 26-17 at the end of the first quarter, Guy Goodes admittedly mailed it in. There was no reason at that point to try and risk anything and try to get a win when they will finish in third place regardless and the goal of these are to get the players as fit as possible. Sure we would have liked to have seen a better game as this was right up there with being one of the worst of the season that I have seen live but it was what its as and Goodes had a plan to stick to. He also knows that the most important game will end up being a potential Final Four Semifinal matchup against Jerusalem. “This wasn’t the most critical game for us this season and I decided to split up the minutes. It’s better to be smart than to be right. We don’t have the roster depth that Jerusalem or Maccabi have and once Jerusalem went on the big run there was no reason to risk a player with our goal of getting to the playoffs in the best possible position.”