Hapoel Jerusalem got its Eurocup campaign off to the worse possible start on Wednesday night, losing 85-72 at BC Prienai of Lithuania.

After three 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 Lithuania.

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).

However, 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 mistakes.”

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 Kiev.

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 turnovers.

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.

The hosts 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.

Frank Hassell 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.”

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