Eurocup Hoops: Hapoel returns to scene of past horrors

Jerusalem visits Kazan with hopes of avenging last year's crushing ULEB Cup loss.

November 4, 2008 07:14
1 minute read.
Eurocup Hoops: Hapoel returns to scene of past horrors

Hapoel Jerusalem 248.88. (photo credit: Asaf Kliger [file])


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Hapoel Jerusalem returns to the site of one of its most embarrassing defeats on Tuesday. The State Cup holder faces Unics Kazan in the Eurocup second qualifying round first leg on Tuesday, its first visit to Kazan since the 98-45 humbling in ULEB Cup action back in January. Revenge is definitely on the mind of the Israeli side even though not much remains from either of the teams which met last season, with both sides going through wholesale changes over the summer. Only three key pieces from last season's rosters are still playing for each of the teams, but despite the changes Kazan has once more got one of the strongest rosters in European basketball's second-tier competition, which had been known previously as the ULEB Cup. Jerusalem, which won't be able to use Monday's new signing Roger Powell in the tie, will have to keep a special eye out for versatile Frenchman Tariq Kirksay, new Croatian playmaker Marko Popovic and American Terrell Lyday. Hapoel coach Guy Goodes can at least console himself with the fact that dangerous big-man Marc Jackson will miss the tie through injury. "This is a road game and we need to control the rhythm of the encounter. We must remember that this is only the first half of the tie," said Goodes, who will be hoping his side will record a favorable result (even if not an outright win) and still have a shot going into next week's return leg at Malha Arena. "Kazan has a very strong roster, but we're entering the game in an optimistic mood," the coach added. Kazan, which is 2-1 in the Russian league, losing 75-69 at home to Khimki on Saturday, overcame a 14-point first leg deficit against Czarni Slupsk of Poland in the first qualifying round tie, crushing the Poles 89-50 in the return leg at home. Waiting for Hapoel in the group stage is David Blatt's Dynamo Moscow, Barons of Latvia and Lukoil Akademik Sofia. Failure to progress past the qualifying round will send Jerusalem into Europe's third tier event, the EuroChallenge. "In the loss at Kazan last year we simply didn't manage to score," said Timmy Bowers, who remembers last season's game well. "We're aiming to win the game and we won't settle for even the smallest of defeats. We won't settle for anything other than a victory."

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