Maccabi Haifa was left to rue what might have been after being knocked out of the Eurocup following an 86-66 defeat to Khimki Moscow at Romema Arena on Wednesday night.
Haifa required a win over Khimki combined with a Montepaschi Siena triumph over CEZ Nymburk in Italy to advance to the round-of-16 from Last 32 Group K.
However, Haifa couldn’t keep its part of the bargain, being outplayed by a superb Khimki side.
Haifa entered Wednesday hoping to register an upset, but didn’t really have high expectations of overcoming Khimki, which took its Eurocup winning streak to 15 games in Romema, also claiming its 30th victory in a row over all competitions.
The real disappointment for Haifa was its failure to convert a 17-point gap to a victory at Nymburk last week. A win at the Czech Republic would have secured the Greens a place in the round-of-16, but Haifa completely capitulated in the fourth quarter, being outscored 20-2 in the final 10 minutes on the way to a 68-53 defeat.
Haifa (2-4) failed to even give Khimki (6-0) a run for its money on Wednesday, losing the first quarter 34-18 and the second 22-10 to enter the break down by an unassailable 28 points (56-28).
“We were a little too scared of them in the first half and weren’t good enough to keep up with them,” said Haifa coach Danny Franco. “We felt bad at halftime and came out fighting. I’m very proud of the team.”
Franco bemoaned the defeat to Nymburk last week.
“Nothing went our way in Nymburk and that was a really painful loss,” he added. “We recorded a great European campaign and it’s a shame it ended on a sour note.”
Dagan Yavzuri led Haifa with 19 points, with Brian Randle scoring 15 points.
Petteri Koponen had 19 points for Khimki.
Meanwhile, Hapoel Jerusalem (4-2) suffered a 93-79 loss at Banvit Bandirma (3-3) in Turkey on Wednesday in its final Last 32 Group M game.
Jerusalem had nothing to play for in Turkey after already winning its group with last week’s victory over Olimpija Ljubljana.
Bracey Wright led four Jerusalem players in double figures with 17 points, while Keith Simmons had 21 points for Banvit.
Hapoel’s opponent in the round-of-16 was determined later Wednesday, with Ulm of Germany, Cantu of Italy, Nanterre of France and Karsiyaka of Turkey all battling for qualification from Group I.
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