Hapoel Jerusalem easily got by Maccabi Ashdod 84-69 at the Port City. The Reds used strong minutes from Nimrod Levi at the beginning of the game as well as a nice offensive burst from James Feldeine at the start of the second half to pull away for the 15 point win. Feldeine led the way for Jerusalem with 18 points, Levi scored 15 points, grabbed 4 rebounds and added 3 steals, Idan Zalmanson chipped in with 10 points, 7 boards and 5 assists while Tamir Blatt also scored 10 points and dished out 6 helpers. Tzuf Ben Moshe was Ashdod’s high scorer with 15 points and LaDontae Henton added 13 points and 16 rebounds in the loss.
Nimrod Levi got off to a hot start for Hapoel Jerusalem scoring ten points in the early goings to help the Reds to a 23-16 first quarter lead over Maccabi Ashdod. Tzur Ben Moshe and LaDontae Henton kept the hosts hanging around during the second quarter but James Feldeine and J’Covan Brown extended the Jerusalem advantage to 39-30 after twenty minutes of action.
Feldeine scored 8 points by midway through the third quarter to increase the Reds lead while Levi and Tamir Blatt also continued to find the bottom of the basket as Oded Katash’s squad went ahead 67-46. The final frame featured garbage time galore as Jerusalem took home a 15 point victory.
1) It’s all in the shoes. Last week Nimrod Levi got a brand new pair of shoes, Kyrie 6 Jet Black and boy did they ever get a workout as the forward was all over the court throughout the 40 minutes. 15 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals later and Levi reminded his former team exactly what he can do. His performance began in the first quarter as he scored 10 of Jerusalem’s first 13 points and set the tone early. “The ball went in and I was moving well,” explained Levi following the game. “But most of all I’m happy we win the game. It took me time to recover from the injury but I’m feeling better. It’s great to return to Ashdod and see a bunch of people that I know from my time here. It was really great to be back.” Levi also spoke about his relationship with his former coach Brad Greenberg with whom he spoke to for about half an hour after the contest. “Brad means a whole lot to me and I learnt a tremendous amount from him. But above all he’s an incredible person who you can speak to about everything.”
2) Coach Oded Katash knows how much Levi means to the team as he offers even more depth for the club, “This is his role and he knows exactly what to do. The injury slowed him down a bit but he’s just continuing to improve. He can play inside and outside and we’re very happy to have signed him over the summer. When we see how well he has become a part of the team both as a teammate and professionally it makes us even happier that he is here with us.” Tashawn Thomas also talked about Levi’s importance to the club, “It just shows how deep of a team we are. We have so many guys who can end up white twenty on a night and we can have a game where the whole team finishes in the teens. I feel for Levi it was big because he played here last year and it shows that the work he’s putting in everyday is paying off.
3) James Feldeine was once again the gunslinger we all know and love with four triples and scoring in bundles to out the game out of reach in the third quarter. Although most of Jerusalem’s players shot poorly going 33/79 for 41.8%, Feldeine made sure to score when the Reds needed to put the game out of reach. By opening up a huge lead early on it allowed for Daniel Rosenbaum and Dvir Ringwald to play 13 and 4 minutes respectively and give rest to the regulars before the team’s Champions League tilt against Antwerp on Wednesday. “The champions league game this week is important,” explained Thomas. “We lost the last two on the road and we need to get back in the win column. We want to play well in both the Israeli and European leagues.” Katash also looked ahead to Wednesday’s clash, “We are in a very tight group and you can’t expect certain results before you been okay the game. We are going to be preparing very seriously for this game and the battle for placement is even more important this year than last. We have to win this game after the two losses.”
Lior Eliyahu played his first game against his former team and received a round of applause from Jerusalem’s traveling support. The contest didn’t go exactly as planned for Eliyahu as the veteran forward scored only 5 points but did grab ten rebounds and hand out 7 assists. “It’s a strange feeling to play against my old team as I went through a lot of experiences with the club. Now I have a number of important goals with Ashdod. We didn’t know we were going to play with only one foreigner and without Stu Douglass ahead of the game which made things even more difficult. Jerusalem is still a better team than we are even when we have three foreigners, but we were able to stand toe to toe against them for about twenty minutes.” Coach Brad Greenberg also looked at his team’s current situation, “We have to get our players back healthy and I was hoping it was going to happen the past two weeks. We still gave to see how we will be when we play teams that aren’t as strong as Maccabi and Jerusalem.”