Hapoel Jerusalem guard Tarence Kinsey (center) led the team with 23 points in last night’s 84-77 win over Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius of Lithuania in Eurocup action at the Jerusalem Arena.
(photo credit: YONI ARIELI)
Hapoel Jerusalem booked its place in the Eurocup quarterfinals and remained on track to win Top 16 Group G after defeating Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius of Lithuania 84-77 at the Jerusalem Arena on Wednesday night.
Jerusalem maintained its hold on first place in the group, improving to a 4-1 record after controlling the fourth quarter following a tight affair.
A win for Jerusalem at Nizhny Novgorod in Russia next Wednesday will clinch the group for Hapoel regardless of other results.
The top two from the group will advance to the quarterfinals, but winning the group could prove to be crucial as it ensures homecourt advantage in the best-ofthree quarterfinal playoff series.
The record with which Jerusalem finishes the Top 16 could also end up proving to be important, with home-court advantage in the best-of-three semifinal and final series’s to be decided by Top 16 records.
Jerusalem claimed its ninth win in 11 games over all competitions and will be confident of completing the job in Russia next Wednesday, especially with Nizhny falling to a 1-4 record following a 90-66 loss to Zenit St.
Petersburg, which sits in second place at 3-2. Nizhny has lost its past three Eurocup games by an average 28 points.
Tarence Kinsey led five Jerusalem players in double figures with 23 points. Lior Eliyahu netted 14 points, while Amar’e Stoudemire finished with a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Kinsey’s basket to end the third period brought Hapoel within a single point (62-61) and he helped the hosts pull ahead in the final five minutes.
His final basket with just under two minutes to play opened a nine-point margin (82-73) from which Vilnius was never coming back.
Clevin Hannah had 14 points for Rytas, which fell to 2-3.
In BSL action on Wednesday, Hapoel Holon strengthened its hold on second place in the standings, beating Maccabi Haifa 75-73 on the road. Holon improved to 12-5, second only to Maccabi Tel Aviv’s 13-3, registering its seventh straight win on the road. Holon has lost its past three games at home, but is undefeated on the road since November 19.
Wednesday’s game at Romema Arena went back and forth and was only decided in the closing seconds. A Jordan Taylor steal and three-pointer with 52.8 seconds to play gave Holon a 73-70 lead, only for Will Graves to hit a triple at the other end to tie the score once more with 36.5 seconds remaining.
Darion Atkins’s jumper moved Holon back in front with 21 seconds left and the American forward clinched the win for his team at the other end, blocking Graves’s three-point shot at the buzzer.
“I was surprised I got that pass, but I shot it with confidence and made it,” said Atkins. “In the last possession on defense I knew he would want to win the game.”
Holon next hosts Maccabi Rishon Lezion in BSL action on Saturday.
“We dug ourselves a hole, but we found a way out of it,” said Shamir.
“Games like this are decided with one or two big plays and we got those from Atkins today.”
Elsewhere, Maccabi Rishon Lezion beat Ironi Nahariya 97-85. Shawn Dawson led Rishon (9-8) with 21 points, while Jonathan Skjoldebrand had 22 points for Nahariya, which fell to 8-9.