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AFTER RETIRING from the NBA this week, Amar’e Stoudemire plans to take some time before deciding if he intends to play pro basketball abroad in the coming season, with Hapoel Jerusalem a potential next destination..(Photo by: REUTERS)
Amar’e finding his groove as local basketball season ramps up
Jerusalem opened its local league campaign in impressive fashion last weekend, easily beating Bnei Herzliya 81-61 to build on its promising pre-season form.
Hapoel Jerusalem looks to improve to 2-0 in the BSL and ensure it enters its Eurocup campaign on a winning streak when it visits Maccabi Kiryat Gat on Saturday night.

Jerusalem opened its local league campaign in impressive fashion last weekend, easily beating Bnei Herzliya 81-61 to build on its promising pre-season form.

Jerusalem convincingly defeated Maccabi Tel Aviv to win the preseason Winner Cup and brushed Herzliya aside despite Amar’e Stoudemire going the entire game without a field goal. The sixtime NBA All-Star played a team-high 26 minutes, but finished with just three points after missing all three of his field-goal attempts. He was impressive on the defensive end though, adding six rebounds and three blocks.

“I was pretty good,” said Stoudemire of his performance.

“Defensively I played great. Offensively I still need to find my rhythm. But the most important thing is that we got the win. I talked to one of the players on the opposing team and they said their coaching staff encouraged them to play physical with me. The referees allow that and that is different in the NBA.

“In the NBA you have to be not as physical and you have to play basketball, and here it is more of a wrestling match.”

Jerusalem coach Simone Pianigiani may even choose to completely rest Stoudemire ahead of next Wednesday’s tough Eurocup regular season opener at Valencia, with Kiryat Gat not looking like a team that can cause Hapoel too much trouble after losing to Maccabi Ashdod by 22 points in its opener.

The weekend’s BSL action will already get under way on Friday when Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Maccabi Rishon Lezion at the Drive-In Arena.

Hapoel will be playing for the first time this season, with its game against Maccabi Haifa being postponed to October 19 as Haifa was in the US to play the NBA’s Sacramento Kings earlier this week.

Rishon began its BSL title defense with a 66-60 victory over Hapoel Eilat on Monday night and is also aiming to pick up momentum ahead of its FIBA Champions League opener against Kataja in Finland on Wednesday.

“We are facing a tough road game and we are hoping to continue with what we started in our opener against Eilat and then turn our focus to our European campaign,” said Rishon coach Arik Shivek.

Also Saturday, Haifa opens its account when it visits Herzliya while Nahariya hosts Hapoel Holon.

Nahariya became the 16th and final team to advance to the second round of the State Cup on Thursday, beating Ironi Ramat Gan of the National League 100-62 in a game postponed due to Nahariya’s participation in the Champions League qualifiers. Nahariya hosts Banvit Bandirma of Turkey in its group stage opener on Tuesday.

Two more games will take place on Monday, with Maccabi Tel Aviv hosting Hapoel Eilat while Ashdod goes to Hapoel Gilboa/Galil.
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