Hapoel Jerusalem crashes out of Eurocup

Hapoel needed to defeat Donetsk by at least 10 points to claim tiebreaker over Ukrainians, keep alive its hopes of reaching the last 16.

December 13, 2011 23:47
1 minute read.
D.J. Strawberry

D.J. Strawberry_311. (photo credit: Haim Tzah/Hapoel Jerusalem website)


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For the fourth time in five years, Hapoel Jerusalem has suffered an early European exit, losing 74-68 to BC Donetsk at Malha Arena on Tuesday night to drop to 1-4 in Eurocup Group A.

Hapoel needed to defeat Donetsk by at least 10 points to claim the tiebreaker over the Ukrainians and keep alive its hopes of reaching the last 16 entering its final group game at Cibona Zagreb next week.

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However, despite leading by as many as eight points in the first period, Jerusalem trailed for much of Tuesday’s encounter and never really looked likely to record a double-digit win.

Dan Grunfeld had 17 points and eight rebounds for Jerusalem, which was playing without the injured Yuval Naimi.

D.J. Strawberry added 15 points, with former Hapoel guard Ramel Curry scoring 19 for Donetsk, which out-rebounded Jerusalem 49-34, taking 17 offensive boards..

Jerusalem got the game off to an encouraging enough start, leading 20-12 after John Thomas’s free throws with less than a minute to play in the first period.

However, an 11-0 Donetsk run, capped by Maksym Pustozvonov three-pointer, gave the visitors a seven-point lead (34-27) midway through the second quarter.

The Ukrainians still led at the break (42- 36), leaving Jerusalem with what was effectively a 15-point deficit to close in the second half considering it had lost by nine points in Donetsk.

However, the hosts never gave up, with a 10-2 run putting Hapoel back in the lead (52-50) with 2:34 remaining in the third.

Jerusalem still had the edge (58-57) with 10 minutes to go, and Strawberry’s basket with 7:54 to play opened a five-point gap (62-57), just five short of the required margin of victory.

But it wasn’t to be, with Donetsk scoring eight of the next 10 points to move back in front and end any hope Hapoel had of a double-digit victory.

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