Hapoel Jerusalem hosts Montepaschi Siena in its second ULEB Cup game of the season on Tuesday evening and knows that any outcome other than a victory is out of the question.
Jerusalem lost 87-79 last week to one of the ULEB Cup favorites, BC Khimki Moscow, and on Tuesday will once again face one of the better sides taking part in the competition.
Siena, which was a Euroleague regular in recent seasons and reached the Final Four in 2003 and 2004, defeated Alba Berlin 79-63 in Game 1 and will be eager to get a second straight win that will put it in prime position to qualify for the next round.
The Italians, who have won five of their first six league games, rebuilt the team over the summer with coach Simone Pianigiani being hired to transform the squad.
Terrell McIntyre, who had 16 points and five assists in the win against Berlin, is the team's leader on court and will be one of the keys to Siena's success. McIntyre is complemented by Lithuanian scorer Rimantas Kaukenas who only scored seven points last week, but made up for that with six assists.
Combo guard Joseph Forte completes the menacing backcourt that is bound to cause Jerusalem problems all night long.
Hapoel will also face a frightening frontcourt on Tuesday, with Montepaschi boasting an excellent combination of local and foreign big men. Italian Ben Eze, African Romain Sato and American Shaun Stonerook combined for 25 rebounds in Game 1 and Jerusalem, who had problems with its rebounding against Khimki, will once again have an extremely difficult time under the baskets.
Siena also gets an important contribution from its bench, with Lonny Baxter (11 points and six rebounds against Berlin) and Vladimer Boisa (eight points and five steals) an integral part in their sides win last week.
"Jerusalem is very good team. They have players like Ed Cota, Timmy Bowers and Mario Austin, but the most important thing is their team play," Siena coach Simone Pianigiani said upon his arrival in Israel on Monday. "We know it will be a very difficult game. In Europe away games are always difficult. The key for us tomorrow is to play good defense." Jerusalem's game against Siena comes a mere 48 hours after the sides loss against Maccabi Tel Aviv in its BSL opener and the team will need a vastly improved performance to have any chance of winning.
Tamar Slay, who sat out the second half against Maccabi, has recovered from his injury, giving coach Dan Shamir a full squad at his disposal.
"It's very difficult to correct all our shortcomings in 48 hours. But we will do whatever we can to play better," Shamir said on Monday.
"I hope that in our home court with our fans we can beat Siena which is one of the favorites to win the competition."
Bnei Hasharon beats Hapoel Galil Elyon
Lee Nailon had an explosive debut for Bnei Hasharon on Monday night scoring 33 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in his team's 105-91 win over Hapoel Galil Elyon in Matchday 1 of the BSL.
Bnei Hasharon opened up a small lead at the start of the second period and after further increasing its advantage in the third quarter cruised to its first win of the season.
"It was a team effort tonight. This is a good way to start the season," Nailon said after the game. "I've been here for a week so it was a little difficult for me to run the plays. The most important thing is that we got the win."
Cookie Belcher had 16 points and nine assists for Bnei Hasharon and showed no lasting effects from the injury that kept him out of all of last season.
"Nailon is a great player and we've seen that since his first day with the club," Bnei Hasharon coach Effi Birenboim said after the game. "We have a very talented side that loves to play together. We got a big win against a very good side tonight."
On TV: Hapoel Jerusalem vs Montepaschi Siena (live at 7:00 p.m. on channel 1)