Big Eurocup test for Hapoel in Montenegro

Jerusalem aims to improve to 3-4 in group ahead of visit to Bayern, with eye on Top 16.

December 5, 2017 23:27
2 minute read.
Hapoel Jerusalem needs guard Jerome Dyson to bounce back from his 1-of-14 field-goal display in the

Hapoel Jerusalem needs guard Jerome Dyson to bounce back from his 1-of-14 field-goal display in the loss to Maccabi Tel Aviv when it visits Buducnost in Montenegro tonight for a crucial Eurocup showdown.. (photo credit: DANNY MARON)


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Despite winning just two of its first six Eurocup regular season games, Hapoel Jerusalem enters Wednesday night’s showdown with Buducnost in Montenegro knowing it can move tied for second place in Group B with a victory.

With just one game separating Hapoel Jerusalem in fifth place and Buducnost in second, and with each team having four more games in the regular season, Hapoel coach Mody Maor has little need of explaining to his players how crucial each contest could prove to be.

The top four in the group will advance to the Top 16.

Jerusalem finally claimed its first home win of the regular season when it beat Lietkabelis Panevezys of Lithuania in its most recent Eurocup game to improve to 2-4 ahead of the three-week break in action.

Hapoel has just one more home game to look forward to against Reggio Emilia of Italy in two weeks, meaning its ability to win on the road will be what ultimately decides its fate.

With a visit to the perfect Bayern Munich to come next week, a loss to Buducnost would leave the reigning BSL champion with a mountain to climb.

Hapoel ends the regular season with a game against Galatasaray in Istanbul on December 27.

One of Jerusalem’s low points under Greek coach Fotis Katsikaris was the 86-81 defeat at home to Buducnost.

Jerusalem trailed by as many as 16 points in the third quarter of its clash with the Montenegrins almost two months ago, but fought back to tie the score with two minutes remaining. It couldn’t build on the momentum though, with Buducnost silencing the arena with clutch baskets and handing Hapoel its second straight loss to start the campaign, a hole Katsikaris couldn’t overcome.

Maor won his first three games in charge of the team, two in the BSL and against Panevezys, before seeing his side get humbled by Maccabi Tel Aviv in local league action on Sunday.

Hapoel was outplayed by the yellow and- blue in the second half at the Jerusalem Arena, although it was playing without Tarence Kinsey, Bar Timor and new signing Ronald Roberts. Kinsey and Timor are both set to be fit for Wednesday’s game, while Roberts should make his debut for the team.

The 26-year-old was due to play for the Adelaide 36ers of the Australian league this season, but was cut in October, with the team claiming he is suffering from a knee injury. Roberts tweeted in response: “Actually I have no injury whatsoever... the reports are false, I’m 100 percent fine.”

Roberts passed all his medical tests with Hapoel.

“I think we all understand the importance of this game,” said Maor ahead of the team’s departure. “Our position in the standings is very clear. We lost to them at home so now we need to beat them on the road.”

Buducnost enters the contest on the back of three straight defeats in the competition after opening the regular season with three consecutive victories.

Nikola Ivanovic is Buducnost’s top scorer (13.7 ppg), followed by Kyle Gibson (13.3 ppg) and Nemanja Gordic (12.2 ppg, 5.2 apg).

“Gordic is their main facilitator, especially in pick-and-rolls,” explained Maor. “They punished us in the low post in our first meeting and that is something we will have to improve on.”

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