Hapoel Jerusalem throws away big lead in Athens, falls to 1-3 in Eurocup

The Israeli champion didn’t trail until 2:21 minutes to play in the game and dropped to yet another dejecting defeat on the road.

November 5, 2015 01:35
1 minute read.
Hapoel Jerusalem’s Donta Smith

Hapoel Jerusalem’s Donta Smith . (photo credit: DANNY MARON)

Hapoel Jerusalem is once more in danger of suffering an early Eurocup exit after squandering an 18-point halftime lead on the way to a 75-74 defeat at AEK Athens on Wednesday night, falling to 1-3 in Group F.

Despite playing without the injured Lior Eliyahu, who will miss the next month with a broken finger, Jerusalem led 45-28 after a superb first half. However, AEK turned the game on its head after the break, with Hapoel being outscored 47-29 in the second half.

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The Israeli champion didn’t trail until 2:21 minutes to play in the game and dropped to yet another dejecting defeat on the road in continental competition following Chris Warren’s free throw with 2.1 seconds remaining.

Hapoel has won just one of its past nine Eurocup trips stretching back to the 2013/14 campaign.

With last season’s 1-6 start and ultimate exit in the regular season still fresh in everyone’s mind, Jerusalem knows it must bounce back starting with its two upcoming home games against the group’s Russian sides Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd and Nizhny Novgorod.

After scoring just three points in total in his first two Eurocup games at the club, Matt Janning led Jerusalem with 23 points on Wednesday, including a three-pointer that tied the score with 5.6 seconds to play.

EJ Rowland added 14 points, with Donta Smith finishing with eight points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

Warren led five AEK players in double figures with 16 points and nine assists, with the Greeks triumphing despite hitting just 11-of-40 two-point attempts (27 percent) after connecting on 11-of-24 shots (45%) from beyond the arc.

Elsewhere, Maccabi Rishon Lezion fell to 1-1 in Group H of FIBA’s new Europe Cup competition, suffering a 72-68 defeat at home to Enisey Krasnoyarsk of Russia.

Rishon led for much of the night, but lost the momentum in the fourth quarter and suffered what could prove to be a costly defeat. Avi Ben-Shimol had 15 points for Rishon, with Delroy James leading the winners with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

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