Hapoel Jerusalem forward Stratos Perperoglou.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Jerusalem’s Eurocup campaign ended in appropriate fashion on Wednesday night. The reigning BSL champion suffered its fourth straight defeat by double-digits, being humbled 87-68 by Galatasaray in Istanbul.
Hapoel began its continental campaign with a clear goal of winning the Eurocup and qualifying for the Euroleague.
In its worst nightmares, Jerusalem didn’t envision a scenario in which it wouldn’t qualify for the Top 16, not to mention lose any chance of progressing with one regular season game to play.
But last week’s embarrassing 79-66 home defeat to Reggio Emilia of Italy meant Hapoel only had pride to play for against Galatasaray, which needed to win in order to secure second place.
Jerusalem gave the Turks a fight in the first period, scoring the first seven points of the night and taking a one-point edge (23-22) into the second frame. The visitors would seize control with a 13-2 run (42-29) and held a 12-point gap (47-35) at the break. Hapoel managed to close to within seven points (71-64) with five minutes to play. But Galatasaray never really lost control and handed Jerusalem yet another dejecting defeat.
Tarence Kinsey scored 13 points for Hapoel, with Lior Eliyahu and Jerome Dyson adding 12 points each. Richard Hendrix had 14 points and 12 rebounds for Galatasaray.
Hapoel ends the regular season bottom of Group B with a 2-8 record after losing for the sixth time in eight games over all competitions in December.
Jerusalem was hoping to try and continue to build some confidence after registering one of its best games of the season on Saturday night to defeat Ironi Nahariya on the way to the quarterfinals of the State Cup.
Despite the heavy defeat in Turkey, Hapoel will aim to quickly brush aside its disastrous Eurocup campaign, with its entire focus at the moment being on ensuring it avoids an upset when it visits Hapoel Beersheba of the National League for a place in the cup semifinals on Sunday.
“We did a good job in the first and third quarters,” said Jerusalem coach Mody Maor. “There are some moments in the game where I am pleased with my team, but we couldn’t extend those moments to the entirety of the game.
That was the reason we lost.
“Obviously, that wasn’t what we expected at Hapoel Jerusalem when we started the Eurocup this season,” Maor added. “This is a big disappointment for us, but we will move forward and work to keep improving.”
With its Eurocup campaign coming to an end, Hapoel is looking to downsize its roster. It currently has seven foreign players, with local regulations only allowing teams to register five for any given game.
The players likely to pay the price for the team’s failure are Austin Daye and Alen Omic, who have seen their roles diminish over recent weeks.
Daye went scoreless in five minutes on Wednesday, with Omic scoring two points in nine minutes. Stratos Perperoglou could also be on his way out of the club, with the Greek forward and Jerusalem both having an exit clause at the end of December.