Hapoel Jerusalem coach expresses concern after third loss

After falling 76-65 to Stal Ostrow in the Basketball Champions League, it appears that Hapoel Jerusalem is apparently too big of a club for coach Oren Amiel.

As each game passes, it is felt that the position in the Israeli capital is far above the Israeli who had practiced his trade in Nymburk for the past few years.

Perhaps the hoops in the Czech Republic are not on par with those in Israel, as well as expectations.

After the loss that sent the Reds to a 0-3 record in continental play, questions abound about the team’s preparation for the game, the lack of a plan and the use of some of their older players.

Why let Anthony Bennett rot on the bench for five minutes left in a desperate game that was a lost cause? Where was Captain Adam Ariel, arguably the best pure three-point shooter on the team, for most of the clash? How about the lack of plays for former NBA first-round pick Thon Maker?

Sean Kilpatrick (right) of HAPOEL JERUSALEM strides to the basket and outscores Hapoel Beersheba defender Amit Suss for two of his game-best 28 points in the Reds’ 90-72 home win over Southerners Monday night in Winner League action. (credit: LIRON MOLDOVAN / BSL)

These are all legitimate questions to be asked after another debacle in the European game.

With the score 54-52 for the Poles heading into the fourth quarter, Amiel needed to be aware that any quick runs by Stal had to be countered with a stoppage in the game or else the game would quickly drift away from Jerusalem. Instead, the bench chief had no response to stop the bleeding when STAL started a 16-0 run to start the frame.

Amiel is not the only match to bear the blame, as the players themselves did the team no favors, throwing blank shots all night 7-for-43 from deep.

However, on the other side of the coin, Amiel couldn’t have done a worse job managing a must-win game if the club had some design to get out of the group stage of the competition.

Jerusalem now needs a modern miracle to do it.

Did Amiel understand the position he was taking and what was he getting into when he signed to take over for the Reds in the summer? Apparently it did not.

The club was poorly built with many players who had little or no European experience, no real point guard and no great man to play center. Jerusalem brought a large number of spare parts that simply could not be assembled in any way.

Building the roster is not just Amiel’s responsibility, it is also spearheaded by Sporting Director Yotam Halperin as well as CEO Guy Harel. It seems there was no real thought, no rhyme or reason for how the team was going to be put together.

With 0-3 in Basketball Champions League action, Hapoel Jerusalem can only dream of the next round. Two silly losses at home that could have been avoided and a disaster of a loss at Ostrow and the Reds can basically fire the continental game and we’re not even out of October.

It’s quite surprising how quickly the team has slipped into depression. The mistakes made by all parties involved keep compounding one over the next.

Taking a look at the 2020/21 campaign, the decision to bring back as many players as possible from the “crown season” was a mistake that led to a poor season last year.

At the time, Coach Oded Katash was not overly fond of this plan, but Harel felt that due to complications from the pandemic, it would be a prudent move. Later, he admitted that it may have been a mistake not to tear down the team and rebuild it from scratch when he got the chance in the summer of 2020.

Then it was Katash who left to take over at Panathinaikos mid-season and the poor choice of bringing in Lithuanian bank chief Dainius Adomaitis, which created further confusion and chaos. After Adomaitis lost the confidence of the players, the club raised assistant coach Yonatan Alon to end the season as Jerusalem was quickly kicked out of the Israeli league playoffs.

Over the past summer, Jerusalem finally underwent a total rebuilding under new coach Amiel, who returned to Israel from the Czech Republic after many years abroad.

While rebuilding was a necessity, the roster put together was questionable at best and there’s no question that there are some players the coach would rather have to do without including the former Bennett, the former No. 1 draft pick. NBA 2013.

Since Bennett’s arrival, Amiel has refused to say a word about his work each time he’s been asked about it. Not a word, nothing positive and nothing negative. But one thing was very clear, that Amiel’s silence about the Canadian has been deafening.

Inserting Bennett into a game that was so out of his reach and in which he felt literally embarrassed sitting on the bench was really not a requirement in Poland. Was it revenge against the player or management?

Whatever the reason behind this, Amiel’s use of Bennett provided brutal optics.

Ariel also played just until the end of the game when he scored a few points that can come into play if Jerusalem needs a tiebreaker. But a shooter from Ariel’s class should have been played for the entire 40 minutes and not just thrown to the ground as a last-gasp effort.

You can add Maker to the mix of misery, scoring zero points in 13 minutes, while Sean Kilpatrick was 2-for-12 from the field, including a 1-for-9 performance from downtown.

It seems that everything that could have gone wrong for Jerusalem has gone wrong.

Eyal Homsky from the owner group together with CEO Guy Harel have a lot to do. With a home date against Hapoel Holon followed by a tough clash against Hapoel Gilboa / Galil, things are not going to be any easier for the club on the home front.

It may have been prudent for Amiel to have played the political game a little better, but what’s done is done and he has to put the past if he has any serious ideas about remaining as head coach.

Amiel’s decision-making has left many aside scratching their heads over their questionable options, one after another with no concrete solution in sight.

Joshua Halickman, the sports rabbi, covers Israeli sports and organizes sports adventures in Israel for tourists and residents (www.sportsrabbi.com). Follow the sports rabbi on Twitter @sportsrabbi or feel free to contact Sports Rabbi at [email protected]


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