Hapoel Jerusalem center Yaniv Green couldn’t help his team avoid a second-round exit at the hands of Unics Kazan in the Euroleague qualifiers in Ostend, Belgiun on Thursday..
(photo credit: ODED KARNI/BSL)
Hapoel Jerusalem’s Euroleague dream was dashed by Russian powerhouse Unics Kazan on Thursday, but coach Danny Franco insisted the team remains on course to reach continental basketball’s premier club competition in the near future.
After beating CEZ Nymburk 94-84 in the first round of the Euroleague qualifiers in Ostend, Belgium on Wednesday, Jerusalem dropped to an 82-71 loss to Kazan despite controlling the first half.
Hapoel led by as many as 10 points (41-31) in the second period, but Kazan scored the final four points of the first half and a Nikos Zisis three-pointer capped a 13-2 run to give the Russian a 48-46 advantage.
Another triple by Zisis opened a four-point edge (58-54) entering the final 10 minutes and Kazan never looked back after beginning the fourth period with a 9-0 run.
Joseph Jones had 12 points for Jerusalem, while Bracey Wright and Derwin Kitchen each scored 10 points.
Israel national team center D’or Fischer finished with 16 points for Kazan, while Zisis had 15 points and six assists and Curtis Jerrells netted 15 points.
“Of course we are disappointed losing the game,” said Franco. “We knew what kind of challenge we would face. We really believed we could beat this challenge. The effort of our players was great, but unfortunately we were not consistent for 40 minutes. It is not enough to play well for only 25 minutes. I have to give credit to Unics Kazan. They made some big plays and shot the ball well. We played hard and every player gave it everything.
“I think we are ready for the season,” he added. “We showed that we are just as good as the rest of the teams here. We have a goal as a club to reach the Euroleague and we are certainly on the right track to be there.”
Following the defeat, Jerusalem was handed a place in the Eurocup regular season. The draw to determine the regular season groups will take place on Monday in Barcelona.
The 2014/15 Eurocup will have one major change compared to the previous season, with the number of teams participating reduced to 36.
The regular season starts on October 14, and ends 10 weeks later, on December 17.
For the draw, teams will again be grouped geographically into two regional conferences, this time into six groups of six teams each.
The top four teams in each group proceed to the Last 32 phase, beginning January 6, when they will be joined by the eight teams that do not progress to the Euroleague Top 16.