Hapoel Jerusalem center Amar’e Stoudemire dunks .
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Jerusalem’s hopes of making a deep run in the Eurocup received a significant boost on Wednesday night with a 69-64 victory over Ulm of Germany in their regular season finale at the Jerusalem Arena.
Jerusalem had already secured its progress to the Top 16 two weeks ago, but needed a win over Ulm to clinch second place in Group D and ensure a more comfortable route in the next round.
A late 12-1 run, which included eight Jerome Dyson points after he had previously missed his first seven fieldgoal attempts, gave Jerusalem the victory. Hapoel moved to a 5-3 record and got back on track following last week’s loss at Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar in Russia and Sunday’s BSL defeat against Hapoel Eilat.
Jerusalem will face Group C winner Zenit St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod, also of Russia, in Group G of the Top 16, as well as Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius of Lithuania.The Top 16 will get under way on January 4, with the top two in the group to qualify for the playoffs.
Curtis Jerrells led Hapoel with 20 points on Wednesday, with Amar’e Stoudemire adding 16 points (13 of them in the first quarter) and 11 rebounds and Dyson finishing with 13 points.
Raymar Morgan had 13 points for Ulm.
A 13-2 run, which included seven Stoudemire points, gave Jerusalem an early seven-point lead (19-12).
A 9-0 Ulm surge moved the Germans in front midway through the second quarter, but Hapoel would hold the visitors to just two points in the final four-and-a-half minutes of the half to establish a double- digit cushion.
The hosts looked to be perfectly placed with a 12-point gap at the break (38-26), but the second half would be anything but straightforward for Hapoel. Ulm put Jerusalem under pressure by making it a four-point game (46-42), and despite reclaiming a double-digit margin (53-42) following Jerrells’s three-point play in the final minute of the third, Ulm was within seven points (53-46) entering the final 10 minutes.
Jerrells scored the first basket of the fourth frame, but Ulm responded with a 13-0 run over the next five minutes, giving the Germans a 59-55 advantage.
But Dyson found his range when it mattered most, scoring eight points in the final three minutes as part of a decisive 12-1 run, giving Jerusalem what could yet prove to be one of its most important victories of the campaign.
Meanwhile, Maccabi Rishon Lezion and Ironi Nahariya both dropped to 3-6 in the FIBA Champions League, losing further ground in the battle for a place in the next round.
Rishon suffered a 69-64 defeat to Oradea in Romania on Wednesday, being outscored 10-0 in the final three minutes.
Javon McCrea led Rishon with 19 points, while Martin Zeno had 18 points for the winners.
Nahariya lost 86-83 to CEZ Nymburk of the Czech Republic on Tuesday