Hapoel Jerusalem and Nahariya tip-off this evening in the 60th edition of the Israel Basketball State Cup final at Yad Eliyahu in Tel Aviv. The Reds will be looking to win the title in back to back years and take hime 6th title overall while Nahariya will feature in their first ever championship game. President Reuven Rivlin will be in attendance as will minister of culture and sport Miri Regev as the two sides will battle it out for basketball immortality.
Oded Katash’s Jerusalem advanced to the final with a dominating 90-78 win over Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion while Nahariya disposed of Nes Ziona 91-86 in the semifinal double header that took place on Monday night.
Ahead of the game, the coaches and captains spoke about the 40 minutes that remain between them and the trophy.
“We have to come with the correct energy and like I said before the semifinal and hope that everything will go out way,” explained Jerusalem coach Oded Katash.
Hapoel Captain Bar Timor knows that the arena will be painted primarily red but the team will need to stay level headed in order to take the Cup home, “Of course there will be pressure and the majority of the fans will be cheering for us. Part of our job is to know how to handle that.”
For Nahariya, this will be the first time that the city will be represented in the title game said Coach Danny Franco, “This isn’t just another game and it’s a huge honor for us to be here representing the city. We knew from the beginning of the season that this was or chance to do something great with our staff and players to get to this opportunity.”
The northener’s captain, Tony Gaffney knows that the prior encounters will have no impact on the final, “I don’t think that the previous games will have any influence on the final. We know Jerusalem’s depth and their quality. We will have to be focused for the full 40 minutes in order to win.”
In addition, Tashawn Thomas, who has won back to back State Cups with Jerusalem last season and Holon the year before can become the first foreign player not with Maccabi Tel Aviv to win the title for a third time, “That would be an honor but I’m really not worried about it and I’m going to come to the game, be myself and play like I do every night.”
With his experience, Thomas knows what he needs to do to help out his team, “I have to be a little more vocal, let the guys know that we’re all here and have each others back and be a leader on the team.”
Is there any scenario that the club won’t come out aggressive as they did in the semifinals? “I really don’t think so, we’re confident but we still have to play and the hard part is getting there and doing that against another good team. I have to be a leader and make sure the team is ready to do the job.”
Last year, Diamon Simpson ate Jerusalem alive in the League semifinal game and Thomas definitely remembers that very well, “We have to be more aggressive and everyone remembers it. We have to be aggressive with him and hit him early that was one thing he killed us with by being aggressive.”
Should Jerusalem win the State Cup that will be two tiles out of two with two to go for the club. But Thomas isn’t looking to far ahead, “Our goal is all of them but we take every game one at a time. When you look forward to stuff you get caught up and mess up on the goals that are right in front of you. Right now all we are worried about is the State Cup Final.”