Hapoel Jerusalem calms nerves with 85-79 win in Netanya

“We showed a lot of heart tonight,” says Brian Randle. “We maybe didn’t run our plays the best, but we worked hard and came out on top."

Brian Randle 311 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Brian Randle 311
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
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.
After 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.”
D.J. 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 team.
“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 earlier.
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 basket.
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 frame.
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.