James Feldeine: Why I joined Hapoel Jerusalem

The 30-year-old Dominican guard explained to TalkBasket.net the reasons behind his decision to play for the Isreali champions this year

FIBA Basketball Champions League
Photo: FIBA Basketball Champions League

Three consecutive Euroleague seasons, two with Panathinaikos Athens and one with Red Star Belgrade, were more than enough in order to showcase the scoring talent of James Feldeine. A few minutes after his new team, Hapoel Jerusalem, had triumped over the FIBA Basketball Champions League holders AEK Athens, the 30-year-old Dominican guard explained the reasons behind his decision to play for the Isreali champions this year.

Amar’e, the city of Jerusalem and ofcourse his affinity for Panathinaikos were the main topics of his chat with TalkBasket.net.

James Feldeine referred to:

– The game against AEK:

It was a tough first half for us, but I think we picked it up and showed what we can do if we play some defense. We talk about it every day, that we can’t start games that way. Against AEK we didn’t start so badly, but the second quarter killed us. We were down by 11 points, but we knew the game was not over. It was a good test for our character.

Life in Jerusalem:

I love it! The atmosphere is amazing, everyone in the team and the city speaks English, the weather is nice, there’s a lot of things to see and do. It’s way different than Belgrade and Athens, but Athens is more dear to my heart. I don’t know why … Maybe because Panathinaikos gave me a chance to play in the Euroleague for the first time in my career. They had a lot of faith in me, putting me alongside Nick Calathes and Dimitris Diamantidis. It kind of stuck with me. I made many friends on and off the court. I’m still calling Nick and James Gist on the phone.

His decision to go to Hapoel:

It was a difficult and long summer for me. I had an option year in Belgrade, but the team would not play in the Euroleague. They were still up in the air on whether to keep me or not. The money situation was problematic; they owed me a couple of months on my payments. There were a lot of things… They decided late that they didn’t want to keep me. It was somewhere near the 5th of August when they told me so, but it was too late for me to find a Euroleague contract. Hapoel called me the next day when I got released. I asked around and talked to my best friend (i.e. his compatriot and teammate in the Dominican Republic national team, Edgar Sosa) who had played there three years ago and said it’s a no-brainer. I was kind of frustrated because I wanted to play in the Euroleague but everone I spoke to said that Jerusalem is the best place to be outside the Euroleague. I’m happy I made that decision. I got to live and play in a holy place like Jerusalem and meet some great people.

Amar’e Stoudamire’s comeback to action after a year-long hiatus:

I knew that before I signed. It’s amazing to have a six-time NBA All-Star as a teammate. I think that he sold out his share on the team. He’s a great guy who isn’t here to be a major star as he was in the NBA. So far, he’s more of a helper to our bigs, the coach and me, everyone. We are learning from him and he’s learning from us. He struggled a bit against AEK, but we will see a different him very soon because he’s working out to get better.

This Euroleague season:

I just hope that Panathinaikos wins, that’s all. I want them to make it to the Final Four and win. I’m not in it, so I don’t care any more.