Hapoel Jerusalem coach Oded Katash can breathe a huge sigh of relief after his
team claimed an 85-79 BSL victory at Barak Netanya on Monday night.
edging Bnei Hasharon in its league opener, Jerusalem suffered consecutive
defeats to Hapoel Gilboa/Galil and Ironi Ashkelon, looking dispirited and
disjointed in the process.
Hapoel was still far from impressive on
Monday, but the return from injury of Brian Randle and the introduction of new
acquisition Dan Grunfeld, made a significant difference to Katash’s team, which
had to dig deep to get the better of Netanya.
“We showed a lot of heart
tonight,” said Randle, who scored 21 points and grabbed five rebounds in his
season debut. “We maybe didn’t run our plays the best, but we worked hard and
came out on top.
“Any time you drop two in a row it hurts. It was only
natural to question our ability, so tonight was special for us.”
Strawberry and Avery Bradley added 13 points each, with Bradley set to return to
the US on Tuesday for personal reasons.
Adrian Banks scored 25 points for
Netanya, with Jerome Randle contributing 22 for the BSL’s only remaining winless
“I think we came with the right level of energy,” Katash said. “But
the pressure affected our play and we should have finished the game
This was a very important game for us which we needed to win and
we did it.”
Randle made his presence felt from the start, organizing the
Jerusalem defense and teaming up with Kadir to dominate under the
Netanya’s lack of big men was costing it dearly, with Randle and
Kadir scoring 16 of Jerusalem first 20 points.
However, there was a limit
to what Randle could do on the defensive end while still playing with pain from
his foot injury, and Brian Asbury’s dunk as the first quarter buzzer sounded
gave the hosts a 28-27 lead after 10 minutes.
A Jerome Randle layup two
minutes into the second period capped a 13-0 Netanya run and extended the margin
to nine points (36-27). But the hosts would only score four more points in the
remainder of the first half, with Jerusalem’s improved defense ensuring it had a
42-40 edge at the break.
The game was still wide-open with 10 minutes to
play, with Hapoel taking a five-point cushion (65-60) into the final
Netanya’s Randle put his team in front from the free throw line
with 3:07 remaining, but Hapoel almost immediately regained the lead and held
off the hosts for a confidence-boosting win.