Hapoel Jerusalem won a hard fought battle 107-102 against Anwil Wloclawek in Poland to retake first place in Champions League Group B with a 8-3 record. In a game that featured very little defense Jerusalem knocked down 17 3-pointers including a pair of huge triples as the clock wound down by James Feldeine and J’Covan Brown to take the win.
John Holland scored 25 points to lead Jerusalem, James Feldeine & Tashawn Thomas each dropped 23 points and J’Covan Brown added 21 points and 10 assists in the win. Tony Wroten put on a show with 28 points, Ricky Ledo chipped in with 21 points and Shawn Jones scored 18 points for Anwil.
Anwil opened up the game strong with points by Rolands Freimanis and Ricky Ledo but 3-pointers from John Holland, James Feldeine and Tamir Blatt kept the game close midway through the first quarter. Chris Dowe hit a jumper in the lane and put down a mega dunk off an inbounds pass but Holland continued to hit his triples, however, the hosts held a 30-27 lead after ten minutes.
Tony Wroten got into the act with points and assists alongside Freimanis to increase the Anwil lead to 42-36 with 5:16 left in the second quarter. J’Covan Brown, Feldeine and Holland kept scoring for Oded Katash’s squad but dunks by Shawn Jones and Freimanis along with layups by Wroten and Ledo kept Anwil ahead 58-54 at halftime.
Tashawn Thomas, Brown and Feldeine led Jerusalem to a 14-3 run to open the third quarter and grab a 68-61 lead midway through the frame. However, the quartet of Jones, Freimanis, Wroten and Dowe chipped away at the Reds advantage and retook the lead 76-75 at the end of thirty minutes of action.
Feldeine scored a quick five points out of the gate for Jerusalem but Wroten drained 10 points and added two assists as Anwil held on to a 92-87 lead with 5:14 left in regulation time. The Reds finally drew even at 98-98 with a deep Feldeine triple and Brown hit one as well to give Jerusalem a hard earned 107-102 win and first place in their Champions League group.
1) 3-pointers. Yes Triples. Jerusalem scored a slew in the first half, 12 to be exact on 17 chances and only five in the second half on 15 shots which were enough to compensate for the total disproportionate amount of shots between Anwil with 78 and 63 for Jerusalem. The first half itself was like the a track meet as the players on both teams ran up and down and up and down the court as the squads combined for 112 points over the first twenty minutes of action. That itself must have caused Oded Katash to grow a few more grey hairs. “Sometimes you win through defense and sometimes through offense.” Against Anwil it was clear that the game was won due to offense.
2) The No-D policy from Jerusalem of late is very troubling. After a disastrous defensive performance on Sunday at Gilboa Galil, most thought that the Reds would have buttoned down the hatches as they prepared for a crucial Champions League tilt, but that was definitely not the case. Against Anwil they were able to pull off the win thanks to having four players with 20+ points, but that’s not something that will happen every day when it seems that every shot is finding it’s way to the bottom of the basket. John Holland was one of the players who just couldn’t miss in the first half, “I felt good and I was getting open shots as my teammates were able to find me and I was able to knock them down.” Although Holland, Feldeine, Brown and Thomas were all hot, if one of them wasn’t, Katash’s crew wouldn’t have come close to winning this game, which was really a must win as Jerusalem took advantage of an AEK loss to move back into first place. “That was a really tough one,” said a relieved Katash. “We were struggling defensively for thirty minutes except for some minutes in the third quarter. We are better than that defensively, but at the end of the day our offense won the game for us.”
3) The offense was hitting on all cylinders and it was good that it was because without the high octane attack, Anwil would have won this clash. “Anwil is a really talented team with high level individuals,” Katash said. “It was hard for us to stop Wroten, Ledo, Dowe and Shawn Jones. At the end of the day the result was great for us. We shared the ball good with 29 assists and 17 3’s. But we were lucky that we scored at such high percentages.” Holland also spoke about the victory, “This was a good team win, we can still get better. We did what we had to do and got the win against a tough team.” On the topic of playing a tough team, Tashawn Thomas spoke about the victory over a very game Anwil, “This was a tough win. Any win on the road is tough in the Champions League especially here with their talent. I’m proud the team stayed together and played tough and got the job done.”
Tony Wroten was fun to watch as the former 1st round draft pick showed the flashes of greatness when he was with the Philadelphia 76ers before he tore his ACL. 28 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists on a night he shot 12/28 was not bad at all. He was able to drive to basket, kick out when necessary and was just plain dangerous all game long especially when he went off in the fourth quarter and out his team temporarily in front. “Two of their guards are at the top level of Europe,” Katash said, inferring that one of take guards is Wroten with the other being Ricky Ledo who had stops in the NBA and in the Euroleague. When you think about it, it’s quite amazing that Anwil has such high level players on their squad but it’s also a great move for the club as they try to build a tradition with their terrific fans. If you haven’t heard the latest Sports Rabbi Show with my Special Guest Tony Wroten it’s time to listen to it now!