(photo credit:DANNY MARON)
After opening the Eurocup Top 16 with a crucial road victory in Lithuania, Hapoel Jerusalem looks to remain on course to progress to the quarterfinals for the first time in three years when it hosts Nizhny Novgorod of Russia on Wednesday.
Jerusalem got Group G off to a perfect start last week, coming back from 20 points down to claim an 80-76 win at Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius.
Jerusalem trailed 34-14 in the second quarter and didn’t take its first lead of the night until the fourth frame. Star guard Curtis Jerrells scored 20 of his 26 points after the break, including eight straight points at one stage in the fourth quarter as well as the go-ahead basket with less than three minutes to play.
Jerusalem also faces Zenit St. Petersburg of Russia in Group G, with the top two teams to advance to the quarterfinals. With each team only playing six games in total, every win is significant, and remaining the only undefeated team in the group following Wednesday’s game will leave Hapoel perfectly placed.
Nizhny beat St. Petersburg 113- 105 in their opener last week.
Novgorod’s DeAndre Kane was named as Top 16 Round 1 MVP after finishing with 31 points on 13-of-16 from the field, including 3-of-4 from three-point range, while also grabbing nine rebounds.
Kane leads Nizhny with averages of 17.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game, and is helped by Ivan Strebkov (17.1 ppg and 5.5 apg) and Kenneth Boynton (14.1 ppg and 3.0 apg).
Novgorod has the fourth best offense in the competition (87.8 ppg), but Hapoel allows almost 10 points less per game to opponents than Nizhny.
“We won last week despite only playing well for 20 minutes and we need to make sure we begin games better,” said Jerrells, who is averaging 18.1 points per game in the Eurocup, ranking him fifth in the competition.
Elsewhere Wednesday, Maccabi Rishon Lezion aims to take another step towards progress to the next round of the FIBA Champions League when it visits Avtodor Saratov in Russia.
Rishon improved to 5-6 in Group B with a 79-61 win over Venezia last week, keeping its fate in its own hands with three regular season games remaining.
Rishon moved up to fifth place in the group, with the top four teams from each group and the four best ranked fifth-placed teams to progress to the playoffs.
“We are facing a tough road game and we need a win,” said Rishon guard Patrick Richard. “To get a win we will have to display the form we showed in our past two games in Europe and play aggressive team basketball.”
On Tuesday, Ironi Nahariya (3-8) visited Domzale in Group A action.
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