Hapoel Jerusalem's Greek forward Stratos Perperoglou has been one of the team’s better players over recent weeks, but he may be on his way out of the club should Hapoel lose to Reggio Emilia tonight and be knocked out of the Eurocup.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Jerusalem must beat Reggio Emilia at the Jerusalem Arena on Wednesday night or its hopes of advancing to the Eurocup Top 16 will already come to an end with one regular season game to play.
Jerusalem has won just two of its eight games so far, suffering humbling defeats in its last two contests at Buducnost and Bayern Munich.
A late run inspired by Jerome Dyson saw Hapoel snap a four-game losing streak over all competitions on Saturday, snatching a dramatic 88-86 win over Hapoel Holon in BSL action.
Hapoel was very fortunate not to drop to its fifth consecutive loss, scoring nine of the final 10 points of the night, with Dyson netting the go-ahead basket with 10.9 seconds remaining.
Jerusalem played without starting center Richard Howell against Holon and announced on Tuesday that the Israel national team player will be out for the next two months after undergoing knee surgery.
A win over Reggio Emilia will keep Jerusalem alive entering its final regular season game against Galatasaray in Istanbul next week. Hapoel would improve to a 3-6 record, leaving it one game behind Galatasaray, Buducnost, Lietkabelis Panevezys and Reggio Emilia in the battle for the three remaining spots in the next round.
“We can’t control other results, but we will do our best to do our part,” said Hapoel coach Mody Maor. “We are facing a very dangerous team, especially offensively.”
With Howell unavailable, Jerusalem will need the likes of Ronald Roberts to step up, with the American finishing the victory over Holon with 14 points and 15 rebounds.
“Howell is a very important player for us, but we have a deep roster and this will give other players an opportunity,” added Maor.
Maor and Jerusalem will first and foremost need Dyson at his best once more on Wednesday.
“Spirits are high now,” said the American guard who leads the team with 14.8 points per game. “We know we need to execute our game plan well, do the right things on defense and make the right plays.”