Hapoel Jerusalem dropped Elan Bearnais 98-76 to move their Champions League record to 9-3. The Reds locked down on defense in the second half holding the visitors 49-31 to run away with the victory. Shelvin Mack and John Holland were crucial on the offensive end leading the way with 22 points and 18 points respectively. Tashawn Thomas added 12 points and 6 rebounds while Su Braimoh chipped in with 10 points and 5 assists for two Reds as Justin Dentmon led Elan Bearnais with 27 points.
Jerusalem took an early 13-10 lead thanks to sharpshooting John Holland and a pair of inside baskets by Su Braimoh while Justin Dentmon did the damage for Elan Bearnais. Holland hit his second triple of the contest but Leo Caveliere and Chiekh Mdodj scored to end the first quarter knotted up at 20-20.
Holland got to work again as did Tashawn Thomas and Shelvin Mack as he scored his first Champions League points to give Oded Katash’s squad a 34-26 advantage. But Dentmon and Mdobj cut the lead to 34-33 with 6:04 remaining in the second quarter. However, Mack added points for the Reds to give them a 49-45 lead at halftime.
Dentmon kept scoring for the visitors but Thomas and Holland did as well as Jerusalem added to their advantage to go ahead 59-50 midway through the third quarter. The Reds kept scoring via Mack and Holland as they completed a 17-0 run to take a 72-58 lead into the final frame. Thomas and Mack featured to open the fourth quarter as Jerusalem scored at will to finish off a 98-76 victory.
1) It’s quite amazing that John Holland and Shelvin Mack were not even a thought a month ago. Holland came in place of Trent Lockett while Mack arrived after Jerusalem released Isaiah Cousins and first that management must be given a huge amount of kudos for making string aggressive moves for two players that scored a combined 40 points against Elan Bearnais. Holland is an upbeat character with lots of positive vibes going as he went 4/5 from deep and 7/11 overall, “It’s really all the other guys and the coaching staff help us be effective and you can see it in the way we play. It can be effective right a way it’s a credit it all the guys.” Mack who came in from Milano after a frustrating time in the Euroleague also looks like he’s been with the team since training camp went 4/6 from 3-point land and 7/10 on the night, “It felt good and it’s getting more comfortable every single day. All the guys welcomed me with open arms which made the transition easy. There’s a lot of love which makes me enjoy coming here and playing.”
2) J’Covan Brown spoke about the dynamic duo, “They’ve been in the league and it’s easier to come in from the NBA and do your job. They bought into the system and they are being aggressive. Basketball is basketball no matter where you’re playing it at. Have faith in yourself and everything else will take care of itself.” Finally, Coach Oded Katash let us in on the secret as to how two players can just in essence show up and look as good as they have thus far, “I think the secret is in the players that are here, their character and they will help the team win. We were able to give more minutes to other players and they can all have a bit of rest. The game is very intensive and it’s good that we can now have a proper rotation. No one will care about their minutes as long as we win and are successful. Then it won’t make a difference.”
3) Of course, the name Amar’e Stoudemire was on everyone’s lips at the game as the fans made sure to let their feelings be known about STAT’s signing with Maccabi Tel Aviv. They are of course disappointed, angry, upset and I can understand them. But at the end of the day basketball is also a business and Stoudemire has to do what’s best for him and his family. J’Covan Brown seemed a bit quiet following the game and spoke about his former teammate’s decision, “I don’t care about that. It’s his decision. Life decision. It’s basket and he does what he do for his family and that’s all you can take out of it. You can’t get mad. He has a family to take care of all you can do is respect him and congratulate him. When he was here he gave everything on the court and he moved on in life.” Katash also commented as well, “The situation is different than last season and it was special to coach him, an honor and I have only good things to say. On a personal level I want to wish him the best of luck. This isn’t the first time a player has changed teams.” Tashawn Thomas I believe said it best and I’ll give him the last word, “It is what it is.”
Justin Dentmon was a man on a mission for Elan Bearnais as he ripped apart the Jerusalem defense early and often. The guard had 25 of his team’s first 50 points, but then it all came to a screeching halt as he only scored 2 points the rest of the way as the rest of the team had 24 over that period of time and fell by 22. What happened? “We started off pretty solid, made a lot of tough shots and tough plays,” Dentmon said. “But it’s tough to stop a team like that. We couldn’t get going in the second half and our communication on defense could have been better. Guys got to be comfortable in their role as Jerusalem is. We showed that we didn’t want to win, hopefully we can fix this but it sucks as our backs were against the wall.” #55 continued, “I stopped trying to please everyone and I tried to get the ball to certain guys. Our scoring was right there in the first half. It was a lack of aggressiveness and players not knowing their roles.” Katash talked about what helped his team to the win, “We knew coming into the game they were an aggressive team but we did a really good job. Our defense was the difference in the second half and we executed well.” Holland agreed, “I thought we did a good job defensively in the second half. They are a good team that beat us before but we wanted to do the little things and really focus to get the win.” Brown had this to say, “First have they played unbelievable basketball with Dentmon leading the way. We switched it up on defense and did a great job in the second half.” Last but not least Mack spoke about what he did to try and tame Dentmon, “I just tried to come out and compete. Dentmon had 20 points in the first half and maybe I could have done something different but I got into early foul trouble. I tried to pick my energy up and had some positive and great energy after that.”