(photo credit: Haim Tzah/Hapoel Jerusalem website)
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
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
D.J. Strawberry added 15 points, with former Hapoel guard Ramel
Curry scoring 19 for Donetsk, which out-rebounded Jerusalem 49-34, taking 17
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
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.
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