Hapoel Jerusalem got its Eurocup campaign off to the worse possible start on
Wednesday night, losing 85-72 at BC Prienai of Lithuania.
straight BSL defeats, Hapoel finally recorded its first league win of the season
against Maccabi Ashdod on Sunday, but it reverted back to its old habits in
Prienai took advantage of Jerusalem’s feeble defensive play
and the Israelis shot poorly from beyond the arc once more while committing far
too many turnovers.
Hapoel remained in touch with the Lithuanians in the
first half, trailing by just two points at the break (35- 33).
Prienai scored six of the final seven points of the third period (61-54) and hit
three consecutive triples at the start of the fourth quarter to open a 15-point
gap (71-56) from which Jerusalem never threatened to return.
“This is a
very frustrating defeat,” said coach Sharon Drucker. “We ended up losing by 13
points and that was the largest margin of the night. In this tight group every
point could make the difference. We lost our composure in certain stages and it
cost us dearly. We need to lift our heads and learn from our
Jerusalem, which failed to progress past the Eurocup regular
season in the past two seasons, hosts CEZ Nymburk of the Czech Republic, coached
by Israeli Neno Ginzburg, next week, with Prienai to visit Budivelnik
Craig Smith led Hapoel with 15 points, while Jacob Pullen scored 13
and Raviv Limonad and Uri Kukia added 10 points each for Drucker’s team, which
shot three from 11 from three-point range and recorded 14
Gediminas Orelik had 26 points for the Lithuanians, including
four of his team’s nine three-pointers.
Elsewhere Wednesday, Hapoel Holon
began its EuroChallenge campaign with a comfortable 84-69 home win over Armia
Tbilisi of Georgia.
Holon opened an early nine-point cushion (12-3) and
Zack Rosen’s points took the lead to 12 (49-37) at the half.
all but clinched the win with 10 minutes still to play after Sean Daniel’s
basket to end the third quarter increased the gap to 72-52.
had 22 points and 15 rebounds for Holon, with David Smith adding 16 points,
eight boards and six assists.
“The game was under our control from the
start,” said Holon coach Dan Shamir, who has also guided his team to a 3-1 start
to the BSL season.
“This is a good start to a tough and intensive group.”