After falling 76-65 to Stal Ostrow in Basketball Champions League play, it just seems that Hapoel Jerusalem is apparently a club that is just way too big for coach Oren Amiel.
As each game has gone by, it feels that the position in the Israeli capital is too far above the Israeli who had plied his trade in Nymburk over the past number of years.
Perhaps hoops in the Czech Republic is just not up to par with that in Israel, as well as the expectations.
After the defeat that sent the Reds to an 0-3 record in continental play, questions abound as to the team’s preparation heading into the game, the lack of a plan and use of some of its senior players.
Why let Anthony Bennett rot on the bench until there were five minutes left in a hopeless game that was a lost cause? Where was captain Adam Ariel, arguably the squad’s best pure three-point shooter, for most of the clash? How about the lack of plays for former first-round NBA draft pick Thon Maker?
These are all legitimate questions that need to be posed after yet another debacle in European play.
With the score 54-52 for the Poles heading into the fourth quarter, Amiel needed to be aware that any quick Stal run had to be countered with a stop in play or else the game was going to get away from Jerusalem quickly. Instead, the bench boss had no answer to stop the bleeding as STAL ripped off a 16-0 run to start the frame.
Amiel isn’t the only party that has to take the blame as the players themselves did the team absolutely no favors, shooting blanks all night long going 7-of-43 from deep.
However, on the other side of the coin, Amiel could not have done a worse job managing a must-win game if the club had any designs of making it out of the group stages of the competition.
Jerusalem now needs a modern miracle to do so.
Did Amiel understand the position he was taking and what he was getting himself into when he signed on to take over the Reds in the summer? Apparently, he did not.
The club was poorly built with many players who had very little or no European experience, without a true point guard and with no big man to play center. Jerusalem brought in a lot of spare parts that just couldn’t be put together in any shape or form.
The construction of the roster is not only Amiel’s responsibility, but it is also on the heads of sports director Yotam Halperin as well as CEO Guy Harel. It seems like there was no real thought nor rhyme or reason to how the squad was going to be put together.
At 0-3 in Basketball Champions League action, Hapoel Jerusalem can only dream of the next round. Two foolish losses at home which could have been avoided and a disaster of a defeat at Ostrow and the Reds can basically wave goodbye continental play and we’re not even out of the month of October.
It is quite amazing how fast the team has fallen into the doldrums. The mistakes made by all parties involved just keep compounding one on top of the next.
Taking a look back at the 2020/21 campaign, the decision to bring back as many players as possible from the “corona season” was a mistake that led to a poor season last year.
At the time, coach Oded Katash was not too fond of this plan but Harel felt due to the complications of the pandemic this would be a prudent move. Later on, he admitted that it may have been a mistake to not tear down the team and rebuild from scratch when it had the chance back in the summer of 2020.
Then it was Katash leaving to take over Panathinaikos in the middle of the season and the poor choice of bringing in Lithuanian bench boss Dainius Adomaitis, which created more confusion and chaos. After Adomaitis lost the trust of the players, the club elevated assistant coach Yonatan Alon to finish off the season as Jerusalem was ousted swiftly from the Israeli league playoffs.
Over this past summer, Jerusalem finally went through a total rebuild under new head coach Amiel, who returned to Israel from the Czech Republic after many years abroad.
While the reconstruction was a necessity, the roster assembled was questionable at best and there is no question that there are some players the coach would rather have to do without including the former Bennett, the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
Since Bennett’s arrival, Amiel has refused to say a word about his play every single occasion that he had been asked about him. Not a word, nothing positive and nothing negative. But one thing was crystal clear, that Amiel’s silence on the Canadian has been deafening.
To insert Bennett into a game that was so out of reach and one where he was literally embarrassed by sitting on the bench was really not called for in Poland. Was this a vendetta against the player or management?
Whatever the reason behind it, Amiel’s use of Bennett provided brutal optics.
Ariel also barely played until the end of the game when he put in some points that may come into play should Jerusalem need a tie-breaker. But a shooter of Ariel’s ilk should have been played throughout the 40 minutes and not just thrown onto the floor as a last-gasp effort.
You can add Maker into the mix of miserableness, with zero points in 13 minutes, while Sean Kilpatrick went 2-of-12 from the field which included a 1-of-9 showing from downtown.
It seems that whatever could go wrong for Jerusalem has gone wrong.
Eyal Homsky from the ownership group along with CEO Guy Harel have plenty of soul searching to do. With a home date against Hapoel Holon coming up followed by a tough clash against Hapoel Gilboa/Galil, things aren’t going to be any easier for the club on the domestic front.
It may have been wise for Amiel to have played the political game a bit better, but what’s done is done and he has to let bygones be bygones if he has any serious thoughts of remaining on as the head coach.
Amiel’s decision-making has left many standing on the side scratching their heads as to his questionable choices, one after the next with no concrete solution in sight.
Joshua Halickman, the Sports Rabbi, covers Israeli sports and organizes Israel sports adventures for tourists and residents (www.sportsrabbi.com). Follow the Sports Rabbi on Twitter @thesportsrabbi or feel free to contact the Sports Rabbi at [email protected]