BRIAN RANDLE of Hapoel Jerusalem 311.
(photo credit: Hapoel Jerusalem website)
Hapoel Jerusalem got its Eurocup campaign rolling on Tuesday night, beating
Cibona Zagreb 89-73 at Malha Arena to improve to 1-1 in Group A.
losing its continental opener at BC Donetsk last week, Jerusalem desperately
needed a win on Tuesday, and despite struggling in the first period, it raced
ahead in the second quarter, effectively securing the win with a 20-0
It was just a few days ago that Oded Katash’s position as Jerusalem
coach was in question, but the 78-64 win over Maccabi Tel Aviv on Sunday
followed by Tuesday’s victory over Cibona guarantees that no one can dream of
replacing the coach anymore, and expectations for the remainder of the season
are as high as they were when it began.
“I think we won both our games
this week through our defensive play,” Katash said. “We played with the right
energies and players who needed time to settle are finally proving their
potential. We will bring in another guard and we will be fine.”
hosts BCM Gravelines of France next week, and Katash knows that it will be
crucial for his team to avoid defeat at home throughout the regular season if it
is to finish in the top two and advance to the last 16.
“We were drawn
into a very tough group,” Katash said. “We first and foremost need to make sure
we win our home games and that will not be easy next week as Gravelines is in my
opinion the best team in the group.”
Brian Randle led Jerusalem with 16
points on Tuesday, with Jarvis Varnado adding 13 for Hapoel, which shot 63
percent (31 of 49) from two-point range.
Andrija Zizic had 16 points for
Cibona, which dropped to 0-2.
It initially seemed like it would be a long
night for the fans at Malha, with both teams looking nervous and confused at the
start of the game.
A Dan Grunfeld basket ensured Jerusalem had the edge
(19-16) after a tight first 10 minutes, setting the stage for an Hapoel run at
the start of the second period.
While Cibona continued to struggle to
find its range, Jerusalem began to fire on all cylinders and opened a
double-figure margin within two minutes.
Guni Izraeli came off the bench
to lead Jerusalem’s surge, scoring seven straight points at one stage to give
the hosts a 28-16 gap.
Cibona couldn’t buy a basket and Brian Randle’s
steal and layup capped a 20-0 run, increasing the margin to 19 points (35-16)
midway through the second quarter.
Tomislav Zubcic’s three-pointer to end
the first half cut Cibona’s deficit to 14 points (47-33), and the visitors
managed to close to within seven points (60-53) with just under three minutes to
play in the third frame.
However, Zagreb never really threatened to
complete a comeback, with Yuval Naimi laying in two of his 12 points to complete
a 7-0 Hapoel run to end the quarter.
That extended the hosts’ lead to a
comfortable 14 points (67-53) they easily maintained for their first European
win of the season.