Hapoel Jerusalem guard Curtis Jerrells beats Hapoel Holon’s Darion Atkins to the basket during last night’s win in the State Cup semifinal, with Maccabi Ashdod guard Chase Simon.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Jerusalem’s Eurocup dream is alive and kicking after it advanced to the semifinals of continental competition for the first time in 11 years on Friday, completing an impressive 2-0 sweep against Gran Canaria in Spain.
After winning Game 1 in Israel by 20 points, Hapoel never trailed in the second game of the best-of-three series, registering an 85-79 win on the road.
Jerusalem seized control with a superb first quarter and never looked back. Hapoel led by 14 points (33-19) after 10 minutes, but the hosts were within single digits for much of the night. Gran Canaria closed to within one point in the fourth quarter, but Jerusalem held on to book its place in the last four.
Hapoel will next face the winner of the series between Valencia and Khimki Moscow. Khimki leveled the series at 1-1 with a 98-74 win in Russia on Friday. The decisive Game 3 will be held in Spain on Wednesday.
Jerusalem will have home-court advantage in the best-of-three semifinals series should it face Khimki. Valencia will have the benefit of hosting Game 1, and if necessary, Game 3 should it advance.
Hapoel and Valencia met in the regular season, with each team winning on the road.
Curtis Jerrells led the way with 23 points at Gran Canaria, while Jerome Dyson scored 16 and Amar’e Stoudemire added 15 and eight rebounds.
Hapoel’s night wasn’t perfect though, with Brian Randle suffering a leg injury which could rule him out until the end of the season.
Sasu Salin scored 17 points for Gran Canaria.
“We knew that in Game 3 everything could be more difficult for us.
So we started the game in the right way, attacking with high rhythm like we wanted in our game plan, creating open shots,” said Hapoel coach Simone Pianigiani. “Our desire was to attack the game on the road, which my players did in an amazing way.”
The Italian said his team rightfully earned its place in the semis.
“I think we deserve to be in the top four,” said Pianigiani. “We had a new team and new coaching staff at the start of the season and we started in a difficult regular season group with Valencia and Lokomotiv. We beat each top team one time this season, and I think my players have a right to play in the semifinals.”