Ironi Nahariya guard Corey Webster drives to the basket against Hapoel Jerusalem’s Richard Howell during last night’s win in the preseason Winner Cup quarterfinals.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Hapoel Jerusalem suffered an unexpected blow in its preparations for the new season on Monday, being knocked out in the quarterfinals of the preseason Winner Cup following an 87-84 defeat to Ironi Nahariya.
Nahariya will face Hapoel Gilboa/Galil in the semifinals on Tuesday after Gilboa beat Hapoel Holon 82-73 in the second quarterfinal on Monday.
In the first semifinal in Holon on Tuesday, Maccabi Tel Aviv plays Maccabi Rishon Lezion.
After lifting the Winner Cup last season, Jerusalem was hoping to make another deep run in the preseason tournament to help and build confidence ahead of the start of the new campaign.
But instead, new coach Greek Fotis Katsikaris was given plenty to mull over after seeing his side squander a double-digit lead and fall to Nahariya, suffering its fourth loss in six preseason games.
Jerusalem has maintained the core of last season’s roster, bringing back seven players.
Amar’e Stoudemire is among the players who left, but Hapoel signed four new players, Austin Daye, Yogev Ohayon, Alen Omic and most recently Stratos Perperoglou. The Greek forward was brought in to add depth due to Tarence Kinsey’s lingering back injury.
Hapoel led throughout the first half on Monday and took an eight-point gap (48-40) into the break. But a 12-2 run saw Nahariya take its first lead of the night (57-56) and Eric Alfasi’s side held Jerusalem to just five points in the first five minutes of the fourth frame, opening a 12-point margin (79-67). The defending BSL champion fought back and closed to within a single point, but couldn’t complete a comeback.
Corey Webster had 26 points for Nahariya, with Alex Young adding 23.
Curtis Jerrells led Jerusalem with 16 points.
“It was an all-around team game and everybody deserves credit,” said Webster. “Everybody works hard and we are trying to get better every day. It is still preseason, but we are focused and we just want to continue and improve.”
Jerusalem also plays Nahariya in its BSL regular season opener next Sunday, three days before it visits Lietkabelis Panevezys in Lithuania in its first Eurocup game of the season.
“In the second half we went down in energy and we went down with our attitude and Nahariya took advantage of that,” said Katsikaris. “We had a lot of one on one situations in which we didn’t react and on offense we didn’t move the ball the way we wanted.”
Gilboa surprised Holon, which had high expectations as the host of the tournament.
D’Angelo Harrison scored 17 points for Gilboa.
Joe Alexander and Tu Holloway had 13 points each for Holon.
On Tuesday, Maccabi Tel Aviv will hope to build on the tight victory over Hapoel Tel Aviv in the quarters on Sunday. Maccabi was playing without Norris Cole, Pierre Jackson and DeAndre Kane, who are also all doubtful for the semis, allowing 19-year-old Israeli Yovel Zoosman to impress in 25 minutes on court, scoring 13 points.
“I’m happy I was given an opportunity to play,” said Zoosman. “We want to win every competition we take part in and that includes the Winner Cup.”