Hapoel Jerusalem 298.88.
(photo credit: Blake-Ezra Cole)
Hapoel Jerusalem's European season comes down to one game after the squad lost 82-66 to Telindus Oostende in a ULEB Cup Group C game Tuesday night in Belgium.
Jerusalem, which returned to Israel late Wednesday night, will play Alba Berlin next Tuesday at Malha Arena knowing that a win will secure the club a berth in the elimination rounds and a loss will end its European campaign.
Hapoel was outplayed by Oostende for the second time this season, trailing the hosts throughout the 40 minutes. The Israelis managed to come within two points late in the third quarter, but former Jerusalem coach Sharon Drucker rallied his men and the Belgian club regained a commanding lead on the way to a comfortable win.
Meir Tapiro top scored for Hapoel with 15 points, with Mario Austin adding 10 points and 11 rebounds. Rashad Wright led Oostende with a season-high 26 points and also added seven assists and six rebounds.
Elvir Ovcina dominated the Israeli club under the baskets, scoring 23 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
"Oostende deserved to win this game. They forced us to shoot from the three-point line and took away our offense," Jerusalem coach Dan Shamir said after the game. "Our only aim now is to win our next game at home and qualify for the next round."
Drucker, who led Hapoel to its greatest ever achievement when he guided the team to the 2004 ULEB Cup, couldn't praise his players enough.
"I have to give a lot of credit to my players. They gave their maximum," he said. "Every loose ball, every rebound, the ball belonged to us. I am especially happy about the third quarter where even after a 13-0 run by Hapoel, they fought their way back into the game and showed a lot of character. My players deserved the win tonight."