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“This is playoff basketball” – Jerusalem out-battles Herzliya 76-69

Hapoel Jerusalem defeated relegation candidate Bnei Herzliya 76-69. In a tight game at the HaYovel Hall, Tamir Blatt’s pair of crucial 4th quarter 3-pointers gave the Reds the hard earned victory as they were able to tame their former guard Jerome Dyson who dropped 25 points for the host’s. James Feldeine led Oded Katash’s attack with 16 points, Amare Stoudemire added 14 points while Blatt chipped in with 12 points in the win.

Jerusalem came out flying as Feldeine dominated the play early but Herzliya settled down with Dyson and Karam Mashour supplying the offense to take a 24-19 lead after ten minutes. Dyson continued to show up his former team as the guard dropped 18 points by halftime, but Jerusalem were able to take a 40-38 lead on the inside strength of Stoudemire and Tashawn Thomas.

Jeff Adrien stepped up his play for Herzliya but a triple by Yogev Ohayon and a monster dunk by Stoudemire made sure the Reds stayed out front 56-53 after thirty minutes of action. Ohayon continued his sharp shooting but Xavier Rathan-Mayes pulled the host’s to within 2-points 64-62 midway through the 4th quarter. However, a pair of Blatt 3-pointers sealed the 76-69 victory for Katash’s crew.

1) Although Jerusalem struggled against a rough and tumble Herzliya team that is battling against relegation and although they didn’t score 100 points (they weren’t even close) the victory showed character and tough defense which Oded Katash was very happy to see. The coach has been critical of his team lately because they had been giving up oodles of points and this game was a good test for the Reds as the playoffs approach. Was Katash surprised? “I wasn’t surprised from Herzliya. They are a well trained team who are fighting for their lives with a lot of individual qualities and abilities. It was a game with a lot of contact and many whistles that could have gone one way or the other. You can’t record such high shooting percentages every game.” James Feldeine who was one of the players who had a rough night from the floor reflected on the game, “This is playoff basketball and in the playoffs you’re not going to score 100 points. We might one game but this was perfect to get us ready for the playoffs. Hopefully the fans keep coming out to support us and push us to win because we need to win games like this on the road in the playoffs so it’s a big test.”

2) With the score 64-62 for Jerusalem with 5:51 left in the game Tamir Blatt entered the game and hit a pair of crucial 4th quarter triples that gave Jerusalem some breathing room and the win over Herzliya. In fact, all 12 of his points came off of 3-pointers as he went 4/8 from beyond the arc on the night and he also grabbed a couple of critical rebounds late in the contest as well. Many games you see one of the foreign guards take the bull by the horns late in the game whether it’s Feldeine or Brown, but today it was the Basketball Champions League Young Player of the Season. “TB stepped up in the 4th quarter,” explained Feldeine. “We struggled shooting the 3’s.” Katash also complimented Blatt, “We have guards who have quality and players who know how to rise to the occasion who have won one or two games in their careers. Today, Tamir came off the bench and hit those two 3’s.”

Katash’s other Israeli guard Yogev Ohayon also had a marvelous game also hitting a couple of big shots and dishing important assists in money time. Katash has been singing number 12’s praises for a while and continued after the game, “Yogev is in great shape and he’s a key player for us. I’m happy his shots went in today when we needed them.” Feldeine also commented on the veteran Israeli’s play, “He’s been doing this all season and he’s been playing well as I said last game. He’s a spark for us and definitely big time.”

It was great to see Jerome Dyson again. The guard who had won the league title with Jerusalem in 2017 had a terrific first half, scoring 18 points but cooled off after that with only 7 points over the last 20 minutes. However, it was great to see him hit 5/10 triples with that sweet line drive shot of his. Feldeine spoke about facing Dyson and the fight that his team would show with only a few games left and relegation hanging in the balance, “Jerome wanted to prove something as he used to play here. They’re good, but they’re not playing that well together. They have some good names and good players and we knew they were going to fight at home against a big team like us.” Dyson was all smiles when he spoke to us following the game and was asked if he wanted to prove something, “Not at all. I just enjoy the game and want to be a competitor. You saw me before the game with the guys and it’s nothing personal.” The guard also spoke about the Jerusalem fans who acknowledged his contribution to the 2017 championship, “It made me feel great. I’ll always have tremendous respect for the fans, they’re great. I know that whether it’s home or away they are always showing up. It was really good to see that.”

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