J’lem targeting semis after Stoudemire storm

With the distraction from Amar’e’s homophobic comments behind it, Hapoel aims to sweep Gran Canaria

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March 2, 2017 23:59
2 minute read.
Amar’e Stoudemire

After apologizing for making homophobic comments, Hapoel Jerusalem center Amar’e Stoudemire (right) aims to help the team into the Eurocup quarterfinals tonight when it visits Gran Canaria in Spain in Game 2 of the best-of-three quarterfinal series. . (photo credit: DANNY MARON)

 
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Hapoel Jerusalem can advance to the Eurocup semifinals for the first time since 2006 when it visits Gran Canaria of Spain on Friday in Game 2 of their best-of-three quarterfinal series.

Jerusalem registered arguably its most impressive victory of the season in the opening game of the series in Israel on Tuesday, winning 87-67. However, instead of basking in the triumph and focusing on Game 2, the club had its name dragged into a controversy it would have been happy to avoid. Star center Amar’e Stoudemire made headlines across the world for all the wrong reasons when he told website Walla that he would go out of his way to avoid a homosexual teammate. “I’m going to shower across the street, make sure my change of clothes are around the corner,” he said, with a smile. “And I’m going to take a different route to the gym.”

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Asked if he was joking, Stoudemire said, “I mean, there’s always a truth within a joke.”

The 34-year-old former six-time NBA All-Star apologized on Thursday.

“I want to apologize for my offensive comments against the LGBT community,” Stoudemire said in a statement. “These remarks were taken from a larger interview where a reporter was asking me hypothetical questions, and all my answers had a comedic undertone. The answers I gave were meant to be taken as jokes, and I am deeply sorry for offending anyone.

“I am open to creating a dialogue to assist the fight the LGBT community encounters daily and will continue to focus on playing basketball,” added Stoudemire.

Five years ago, Stoudemire received a $50,000 fine from the NBA for a homophobic comment made towards a fan on Twitter. Stoudemire went on to apologize to the fan after using the slur in response to a crude tweet in which the fan admonished the center.



Stoudemire helped Jerusalem dominate the paint against Gran Canaria in Game 1, with the American finishing with 14 points and seven rebounds.

Jerome Dyson scored 20 points for Hapoel, which dished 25 assists.

Gran Canaria made just 6-of-27 attempts from three-point range, a disastrous shooting night which is unlikely to be repeated at its home-court. Gran Canaria has lost just one of seven home Eurocup games this season and thrashed Jerusalem 108-61 in the Eurocup Last 32 last season. The Spaniards lead the competition in scoring (87.7 ppg), but were held by Jerusalem to their lowest point total in the last two seasons.

Three of Hapoel’s four losses in the Eurocup this season have come on the road, and even though it will host the decisive Game 3 next Wednesday if necessary, coach Simone Pianigiani is hoping his team can complete the job on Friday.

“We know they have only lost one game at home in the Eurocup and that they are a very good home team,” said the Italian. “Usually on the road we have some problems maintaining intensity for 40 minutes. The goal will be to try and resist their pressure at the start of the game because for sure they will jump on us from the beginning. If in the fourth quarter the game will still be close the pressure will be on them.”

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