Hapoel Jerusalem center Alen Omic played his best game of the season against Reggio Emilia in Eurocup action last night in Italy..
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Jerusalem kick-started its Eurocup campaign on Wednesday night with a hard-fought 63-61 win at Reggio Emilia.
After opening its campaign with three straight losses, Hapoel finally got off the mark thanks to a superb showing by Jerome Dyson. The American guard ended the night with 22 points, including the go-ahead three-pointer with 18.4 seconds to play and the two free-throws that clinched the victory.
Alen Omic added 13 points.
Amedeo Della Valle had 23 points for the Italians, who fell to 2-2.
Hapoel still has its fate in its own hands, having six more regular season games to play and with four of the group’s six teams to advance to the next round.
However, three of its final four games will come on the road, including against Buducnost and Bayern Munich, who have already won in Jerusalem.
Next up for Jerusalem are two consecutive games at home against Galatasaray of Turkey and Lietkabelis Panevezys of Lithuania. Hapoel is still only one game back of fourth place in the group, with Bayern leading the way at 4-0 after beating Buducnost 76-60 on Wednesday.
Buducnost fell to 3-1, with Panevezys at 2-2 and Galatasaray at 0-4 after the Lithuanians beat the Turks 78-73.
There was little to separate the teams early in the game in Italy and Jerusalem finally welcomed Tarence Kinsey back into the fold with three minutes to play in the first quarter. The American forward had been out with a back injury since the start of the season and it was no surprise he looked rusty early on.
The hosts made their run while Kinsey was on court, ending the first quarter with a 12-2 run to take a 21-13 lead.
Reggio’s gap reached nine points before the much-maligned Omic took his personal tally to 12 points to bring the visitors to within a single point (30-29).
Hapoel couldn’t complete the comeback though, hitting just 1-of-10 threepoint attempts in the first half and trailing by four points at the break (35-31).
Della Valle, who entered the game leading the Eurocup with an average of 22.3 points per game, began the second half with a three-point play, but Hapoel would have the better of the third period, tying the score at 46-46 entering the final 10 minutes.
Dyson’s basket to start the fourth frame gave Jerusalem its first lead since the first quarter and Jerusalem survived the tight finish thanks to the American’s heroics.
Jerusalem isn’t the only Israeli team struggling so far in Europe, with Hapoel Holon falling to 0-4 in the FIBA Champions League on Tuesday. Holon suffered a 98-91 defeat to Karsiyaka in Turkey, trailing throughout the game, including by as many as 22 points, before limiting the damage in the closing minutes.
Holon can at least draw some encouragement from the play of new forward Glen Rice Jr., who was making his debut. Rice led the team with 23 points in what was his first game in Europe after previously spending his professional career in the NBA Development League, the Philippines, while also making 16 appearances in the NBA for the Washington Wizards.
Holon has dug itself a significant hole, but still has time to resurrect its campaign.
The regular season consists of 14 games and four of the eight teams in the group will advance to the round of 16.
Holon, which hosts Enisey Krasnoyarsk of Russia next Tuesday, is currently two games back of fourth place.