Hapoel Jerusalem forward Donta Smith (right) and Derwin Kitchen.
(photo credit: LIRON MOLDOVAN/BSL)
Hapoel Jerusalem lost all hope of progressing in the Eurocup with one regular season game to play on Wednesday night, losing 112-110 in double overtime to CSU Ploiesti at the Jerusalem Arena.
Jerusalem needed a nine-point win to maintain any chance of reaching the Last 32 entering its final Group E game. However, once more it was left wanting in continental competition, twice forcing overtime but still failing to claim the victory, not to mention win by the required margin.
Donta Smith led Jerusalem with a sensational triple-double, finishing with 16 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds against the Romanians. Bracey Wright scored 24 points for Hapoel, which dropped to 2-7 and will end its Eurocup campaign with a meaningless contest at Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius next week.
Gerald Lee had 24 points for CSU (5-4), with Dee Brown adding 21 points.
After failing to score more than eight points in five of Jerusalem’s eight Eurocup encounters until Wednesday, Lior Eliyahu already reached that total in three-anda- half minutes against CSU, with his fourth field goal from four attempts giving Jerusalem an 8-6 advantage.
However, Hapoel never led by more than two points in regulation, with Ploiesti going on a 7-0 run to take a five-point gap (20-15) into the second quarter.
The visitors began the second period with two consecutive three pointers to open a double-digit gap (26-15) and Jerusalem came no closer than six points before entering the interval down by seven (45-38).
Hapoel moved to within five points early in the second half, but never really threatened to complete the comeback.
Brown hit three straight triples to open a 12-point margin (62-50) and break Hapoel hearts, but Jerusalem continued to fight and was down by just a single point (72-71) with five minutes to play.
Smith’s free throws tied the game at 84-84 with 10 seconds to play, and Jerusalem received five more minutes to try and win by the required gap after Brown missed at the buzzer.
A Smith three gave Jerusalem its first lead since the first quarter (91-89), but the hosts didn’t have long enough to build on the margin and began to play for another overtime. Wright’s triple leveled the score (96-96) with 11 seconds to go and the game headed into a second extra period after Marius Runkauskas missed his jumper.
Jerusalem got the second overtime off to a flying start, with Bar Timor’s three opening a six-point gap with 3:30 minutes remaining.
But Ploiesti scored the next seven points to extinguish Hapoel’s hopes once and for all and officially knock out Jerusalem.