Hapoel Jerusalem forward Tony Gaffney.
(photo credit: LIRON MOLDOVAN/BSL)
Despite winning just one of its first seven Eurocup regular season games, Hapoel Jerusalem remains mathematically alive.
However, another defeat at Partizan Belgrade on Wednesday night could well officially end its hopes of qualifying for the Last 32 with still two more games to play in Group E.
Thanks to the Eurocup’s format which sees four of the group’s six teams progress to the next stage, Jerusalem has still got something to play for in Belgrade despite its dismal campaign to date.
Hapoel may have improved to 9-0 in the BSL on Sunday, but it has simply failed to get the job done in continental competition this season. Its only source for optimism is the fact that four of its six losses have come by four points or less.
Hapoel’s only victory came against Partizan, a tight 82-79 triumph at the Jerusalem Arena in late October. Partizan has since only won one game, beating CSU Ploiesti at home. The Serbs did give Banvit Bandirma a real scare last week though, before losing in overtime in Turkey.
Jerusalem will be crossing its fingers and praying for a Ploiesti (3-4) loss to Bandirma (6-1) on Wednesday, which would hand Hapoel a lifeline ahead of next week’s meeting against the Romanians.
First things first, however, with Jerusalem needing a win in Belgrade on Wednesday to ensure it will still have a chance entering next week regardless of other results in the group.
A Hapoel loss combined with a Ploiesti win will knock-out the Israeli club.
“We understand the importance of this game and the fact it is our last chance to get a win that may give us hope to qualify for the Last 32,” said Jerusalem coach Danny Franco.
Forward Lior Eliyahu is excited to be playing once more in the historic Pionir Arena.
“Over my career I played in the Pionir Arena a few times and it is, without a doubt, one of the toughest arenas for an opposing team,” he said. “We are not calculating our qualification chances, we need to win and then move on to the next game.”