Earlier this month, Hapoel Jerusalem's front office considered parting ways with power forward Leo Lyons. When it became apparent that the team did not have a worthy replacement, management decided to keep him "just so that we'll have another player who can enter the rotation in case of injuries or foul trouble."
Theoretically, it was a wise move. In practice, however, head coach Guy Goodes has given Lyons scant playing time. His Israeli forward, Sharon Shason, has also been glued to the bench. These are curious decisions considering that Hapoel Jerusalem's schedule this season, which includes tonight's Eurocup quarterfinal matchup against Alba Berlin (20:45, 5+ Live), has been particularly overloaded.
Team officials are having a difficult time explaining the coach's decision to use a short seven-man rotation, particularly in light of recent games in which fatigue seems to be an increasingly decisive factor. During its last Super League game against Afula, Hapoel built a sizeable lead yet squandered the advantage down the stretch. It only came away with the victory thanks to a last-second basket.
In the first leg of its quarterfinal matchup against Alba Berlin, Jerusalem raced to a 20-point lead, before Berlin took advantage of Hapoel's tired legs to mount a comeback and lose by just six points.
Hapoel Jerusalem can advance to the Eurocup Final Four by virtue of a loss by no more than six points. "Goodes has a problem with game management," complained one Hapoel official. "It is inconceivable for players' legs to just give out from fatigue."
"There were games in which Dijon Thompson asked to come out of the game because he was so tired," the official said. "What purpose does it serve to keep players on the team if you are not going to use them?"
People close to Shason can't figure out why Goodes continues to ignore the forward. "He can shoot and can change the momentum of the game with his defense," said an associate of Shason. "For Gudes not to use him is a waste."
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now