Hapoel Jerusalem's real season in about to start. The team's ULEB Cup
campaign begins Tuesday night in France
against Le Mans and from that point on Jerusalem will play twice a week with plenty of travel in between.
The European season arrives just in time for the capital city hoopsters - and their coach in particular - who are under much too much pressure already. Less practice time and more games may be just what the doctor ordered for the team.
The question that remains is what is the cure for coach Erez
Edelstein. The at times charming, at times volatile red head was again in form after Sunday night's win at Malcha
. In a post-match interview with Sport5, Edelstein, whose genius as a coach is unquestioned and whose ability to get the maximum out of average players deserves nothing but praise, began making excuses for why his team has struggled so far.
When asked why he didn't have a second ball-handler on the court in the closing minutes alongside Horace Jenkins, Edelstein shot from the hip and claimed that Roger Mason Jr. was actually a point guard in college and for two seasons in the NBA with the Toronto Raptors
alongside Vince (I believe he pronounced it as "Wince") Carter and Jalen Rose, proudly taking the "if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me" attitude.
Well coach, Mason played a bit of point at Virginia
and did some ball handling at Toronto - mostly alongside another established NBA playmaker in Milt Palacio - but 23 games over five months doesn't count as two NBA seasons.
He then went on to defend the performance of Tamar Slay (who wasn't bad at all) by adding that he's never played power forward before. That's true, but who was it that signed Slay - a guard throughout his three-year NBA career - to play at the four slot?
One might think I'm nitpicking. It's not a crime to teach Slay, who has the body and talent to play the four in Israel
, a new position, nor is it horrible to slightly exaggerate Mason's playmaking credentials. The guy is a great athlete and can certainly help out with the ball.
The problem for Jerusalem lies in Edelstein's need to make excuses after three games. If the red-head's already under pressure, as many fans in the capital already know, it's not a good sign for this team.