Hapoel Jerusalem’s hopes of marking the 10th-year anniversary of its ULEB Cup triumph by lifting the Eurocup were dashed in the quarterfinals on Wednesday night.
Jerusalem was knocked out by Nizhny Novgorod by losing the second leg of the quarters 88-72 in Russia, overturning Hapoel’s 81-78 victory in the first leg at Malha Arena last week.
Hapoel opened an early seven-point cushion on Wednesday and led by six points (21-15) after 10 minutes. However, it was outplayed in the second and third periods and fell short in its attempt to reach the Eurocup semifinals for the first time since 2006.
“Nizhny deserves a lot of credit. They scored superbly and controlled the boards,” said Jerusalem coach Brad Greenberg. “We had a very poor third period from which we never managed to recover. We shot ourselves in the foot.
“We had a very positive run in the Eurocup, but the guys are disappointed we didn’t play well tonight,” Greenberg added.
Derwin Kitchen led Jerusalem with 15 points, while Lior Eliyahu scored 13 points for the team, which hit just one of eight three-point attempts and was outrebounded 37-20.
Taylor Rochestie led Novgorod with 18 points, with the hosts scoring 10 threes from 24 attempts.
“We knew we would have to limit them from three-point range but we failed to do so,” said Eliyahu. “On the other hand, we scored just one three and you can’t reach the semis like that.”
After failing to score a single point in 24 minutes in the first leg, Eliyahu began Wednesday’s encounter on fire, scoring seven quick points to give Jerusalem an early seven-point cushion (9-2).
No more than six points separated Hapoel and Nizhny throughout the first leg last week, but despite Jerusalem’s promising start, Novgorod never lost touch, trailing 21-15 after the first quarter.
The hosts seized control of the game in the second period, with Rochestie scoring eight points in a Nizhny 15-0 run, opening a double- digit lead (35-25).
Hapoel fought back and the two-legged tie was tied at the break, with the Russians leading 40-37.
However, Jerusalem failed to come any closer, with Novgorod taking their gap to 13 points (63-50) at the end of the third quarter thanks to Semen Antonov’s buzzer-beating three.
Hapoel only finally hit its first three of the night more than three minutes into the final frame, with Kitchen’s triple bringing Jerusalem within 12 points (70-58).
However, Hapoel never came close to mounting a serious comeback and saw its impressive continental campaign end earlier than it had hoped.