Jerusalem set for playoff clash with Peristeri

Hapoel hosts Game 1 of Champions League series • Maccabi Tel Aviv duels with Euroleague leader Efes

TASHAWN THOMAS (right) and Hapoel Jerusalem, as well as Deni Avdija (left) and Maccabi Tel Aviv will both suit up for big continental games tonight at home.  (photo credit: DANNY MAROM)
TASHAWN THOMAS (right) and Hapoel Jerusalem, as well as Deni Avdija (left) and Maccabi Tel Aviv will both suit up for big continental games tonight at home.
(photo credit: DANNY MAROM)
Hapoel Jerusalem tips off against Peristeri BC of Greece on Wednesday night in the best-of-three Basketball Champions League round-of-16 playoff series while Maccabi Tel Aviv will host Euroleague leader Anadolu Efes on Wednesday in regular-season play as hoops fans will have a full plate of top-level basketball.
The Reds come into their matchup as the heavy favorites after winning their group with an 11-3 record while the Athens-based squad ended group play with an 8-6 record in its first foray in the competition.
This week, Oded Katash’s crew added one of the league’s most valuable player candidates in center Emanuel Terry from Turkish team Bandirma as the Israeli capital city side will definitely be a threat throughout the 40 minutes of action together with the likes of James Feldeine, J’Covan Brown and TaShawn Thomas.
For Peristeri, coach Nikos Papanikolopoulos will have former Maccabi Tel Aviv guard DeAndre Kane at his disposal, but with Jerusalem aiming for the title the Greeks will need lockdown defense to contain the host’s potent offense.
Hapoel Jerusalem used a pair of league games in a 48-hour span to tune up for European play as it slipped by Hapoel Holon 115-112 in a thriller that saw end-to-end basketball in a spectacular offensive display.
The Reds used a 44-point second quarter thanks to Brown and Feldeine to build up a significant lead, but Holon kept chipping away and just came up short as Manny Harris missed a potential game tying three-pointer at the final buzzer.
Brown led Jerusalem with 27 points and eight assists, Feldeine added 24 points while Suleiman Braimoh chipped in with 22 points in the win.
Marcus Foster was the game’s high scorer with 37 points, TJ Cline scored 22 points and Joe Alexander added 18 points for Stafanos Dedas’s team.
“This isn’t how I thought we would come out to play after the break,” said a disgruntled Katash. “If we play like this against Peristeri where we are shooting well, then maybe we will win by a point. This game raises many concerns and as a coach you can’t be happy about a win like this.”
In their second game, the Reds sunk Hapoel Eilat 99-84 as they traveled down south to dispose of the Red Sea City squad.
Jerusalem took a 28-14 lead after 10 minutes and never looked back as it put the contest away early to the relief of Katash. Six players scored in double digits as Shelvin Mack led the way with 17 points, Tamir Blatt scored 15 points and added eight assists, Braimoh chipped in with 15 points and Thomas recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
John Jenkins was Eilat’s high scorer with 18 points in his debut for the club.
Meanwhile, Maccabi Tel Aviv will look to continue its fine play at home this season in continental action when it welcomes star guard Shane Larkin in a much-anticipated Euroleague contest.
Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad will face a tough test against the first-place club, which also featured in the finals of the competition last season.
However, Maccabi’s Scottie Wilbekin will attempt to match Larkin shot for shot at Yad Eliyahu as two of the league’s MVP candidates will face off against each other on the hardwood.
In Israeli League action, the yellow-and-blue walked over Hapoel Gilboa/Galil 99-76 at Yad Eliyahu. Maccabi ran out to a 30-18 lead after the first quarter and never looked back as it demolished an undermanned Galilee squad in a game that was never in doubt from the get-go.
Captain Jake Cohen starred with 22 points and nine rebounds, 2020 NBA lottery prospect Deni Avdija scored 16 points, added seven assists and grabbed five rebounds while Tyler Dorsey chipped in with 15 points in the win. Edgar Sosa led Gilboa/Galil with 22 points.
Also, Hapoel Beersheva blasted Maccabi Ashdod 101-77 in a battle of the two last-place clubs. The desert squad grabbed a 33-17 lead after 10 minutes and never looked back as T.J. Williams starred with 26 points and 15 assists.
Amit Simhon added 23 points and Da’Sean Butler chipped in with 19 points to give Rami Hadar’s side the win. Paul Stoll and Oded Brandwein led Ashdod with 14 points apiece in a losing cause.
Meanwhile, Ness Ziona defeated Hapoel Tel Aviv 95-90 as a 17-0 run in the third quarter helped Nadav Zilberstein’s men to the win.
Big man Jeff Withey starred in the victory with 19 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocked shots - which was a league record - while JP Tokoto added 22 points and 12 boards and Daequan Cook scored 21 points. Jordan Hamilton led the Reds with 25 points in the loss.
Elsewhere, Maccabi Rishon Lezion dropped Nahariya 76-63 as D’Angelo Harrison starred in his first game back in Israel with 17 points to lead Guy Goodes’s squad, while Dominic Waters scored 15 points to lead the Northern City side in defeat.