Jerusalem falls to 0-2 in Eurocup play

October 18, 2017 06:29

Reigning Israeli champion is in a hole after suffering unexpected setback at home against Buducnost.

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Jerusalem falls to 0-2 in Eurocup play

Hapoel Jerusalem center Alen Omic (left) scored 14 points last night, but it wasn’t enough to beat Aleksa Ilic and Buducnost, which left the Jerusalem Arena with an 86-81 victory in Eurocup action.. (photo credit:DANNY MARON)

Hapoel Jerusalem dropped to its second straight defeat to start the Eurocup regular season on Tuesday night, with the 86-81 home loss to Buducnost of Montenegro complicating the team’s situation in Group B just two weeks into the campaign.

After reaching the semifinals of the competition last season, Jerusalem set itself the target of going at least one step further in 2017/18 and reaching the final. That could soon become an unrealistic dream after Hapoel fell to 0-2 on Tuesday, failing to bounce back from last week’s humbling 86-72 defeat at Lietkabelis Panevezys of Lithuania.

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Jerusalem trailed by as many as 16 points in the third quarter, but fought back to tie the score with two minutes remaining. It couldn’t build on the momentum though, with Buducnost silencing the arena with clutch baskets and giving new Hapoel coach Fotis Katsikaris plenty to mull over.

Jerusalem hosts what is considered to be the strongest team in the group next Wednesday, and another defeat against Bayern Munich of Germany would leave it in a very tricky position after only three of 10 regular season games. The top four in the six-team group will progress to the next round.

Jerome Dyson led Jerusalem with 21 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Alen Omic added 14 points for Hapoel, which shot just 5-of-22 from three-point range.

Nikola Ivanovic had 19 points for Buducnost, which improved to 2-0.

“We weren’t aggressive enough and we let them score easy baskets and dug ourselves a big hole,” said Jerusalem guard Yogev Ohayon. “We fought back but a couple of offensive rebounds ended up deciding the game which is a shame because I thought we could win this game.”

Hapoel forced eight turnovers in the first quarter alone, but its offensive struggles meant the hosts were ahead by only two points (18-16) after 10 minutes.

The game remained tight in the second period, but it was Buducnost which had momentum on its side at the break, leading by three points (39-36).

The visitors then scored the first seven points of the second half to open the first double-digit margin of the night and would go on to lead by as many as 16 points (56-40).

Buducnost took a 12-point cushion (67-55) into the final 10 minutes, but after allowing 28 points in the third quarter Hapoel would limit the Montenegrins to just seven points in the first seven minutes of the final frame.

An Omic layup tied the score at 75-75 with two minutes to play, but Jerusalem couldn’t complete the comeback, with Buducnost making the most of its second opportunities to eke out the win.

Earlier Tuesday, Hapoel Holon dropped to a humbling 85-56 defeat to AS Moncao, falling to 0-2 in Group A of the FIBA Champions League. Holon is also at 0-2 in the BSL, and pressure at the club is continuing to build after it entered the season with high expectations.

Monaco showed why it is considered to be one of the favorites to go all the way in the competition by quickly surging ahead. The visitors took a double-digit gap (29-18) into the second quarter and never lost control, opening a 16-point margin (42-26) by the break and piling the misery on Holon in the second half.

TaShawn Thomas had 13 points for Holon, with Tamir Blatt the only other player in double figures with 10 points.

Elmedin Kikanovic led four Monaco players in double digits with 16 points.

Holon’s next opportunity to get off the mark in 2017/18 will be at Bnei Herzliya in BSL action next Sunday.

Dan Shamir’s side visits Juventus Utena in Lithuania in its next Champions League game next Wednesday.

Holon still has plenty of time to make amends, with the regular season consisting of 14 games and four of the eight teams in the group to advance to the round of 16.

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