(photo credit: Hapoel Jerusalem Website)
Now that it has got its BSL season back on track, Hapoel Jerusalem sets aim on
opening its Eurocup campaign with a victory when its visits BC Donetsk in Kiev
on Tuesday night.
Pressure levels reached boiling point after Jerusalem
began its league campaign with two defeats in three games, but back-to-back wins
against Barak Netanya and Maccabi Ashdod helped steady the ship ahead of a visit
to Nokia Arena to face Maccabi Tel Aviv on Sunday.
However, before it
tackles that daunting prospect, Jerusalem will be looking to get its continental
campaign off to a winning start in the hope of eventually making up for last
year’s disappointing regular season exit.
In fact, in three of the last
four seasons, Hapoel has failed to progress past the first group stage in
European competition, and coach Oded Katash knows a win on Tuesday can prove
crucial in a group which also includes Cibona Zagreb of Croatia and BCM
Gravelines of France.
“We are all very excited to get underway, the
Eurocup is a great competition,” Katash said.
“We received a difficult
draw and this is far from an easy competition. We have many players without
Eurocup experience and I hope the first game goes well. We built a new roster
this season and we weren’t really expecting a smooth start.”
recognizable name for Israeli fans on Donetsk’s roster is Ramel Curry, who
played for Hapoel during the 2007/08 season.
believes the Ukrainians will pose a serious threat to his team.
is a very good team, with talented players with great skills,” he
“Although the game is on the road and we know their gym will be a
tough place to win at, we believe in our strength and talent.
facing a tough week, with the game against Maccabi Tel Aviv also on the
Maccabi prepares for its games against Jerusalem differently
than it does for its other league games, but we will only turn our focus to that
encounter after the game against Donetsk.”
The Eurocup’s six-game regular
season will be played over the next six weeks and will finish on December 20,
with the best two from each group advancing.
Games resume on January 17,
with the opening of the Last 16 round, which consists of six more games for each
The best two teams from each group progress, this time to the
two-legged quarterfinals, with the four series winners to play in the knockout
Eurocup Finals on April 14 and 15.
D.J. Strawberry, who has been one of
Jerusalem’s most consistent performers so far this season, averaging 18.2 points
per game in the BSL, believes Hapoel is ready for the start of its Eurocup
“We are a new team and we need to take one step at a time,” he
“We’ve still got plenty of work to do. We need to improve, but I
think we are all set for the Eurocup.”