Hapoel Jerusalem Tre Simmons.
(photo credit: BSL)
Hapoel Jerusalem will be looking to put its shock State Cup exit behind when it visits BC Siauliai in Lithuania on Tuesday.
A win for Hapoel combined with a KK Zadar loss at Aris Thessaloniki will secure Jerusalem's spot in the last 16 of the competition with a game to spare in Group C.
A defeat, however, would seriously jeopardize Hapoel's chances of progressing in the Eurocup and will mean its fate will only be decided in its final group game against Aris at Malha Arena next Tuesday.
Guy Goodes's team was knocked out in the last 16 of the State Cup last Sunday, suffering a surprise 77-76 defeat to Barak Netanya at Malha.
"We have gone through a difficult week, but we told the players that they must lift their heads because we have more goals to achieve this season," Goodes said. "One of those goals is to succeed in Europe and a win in Lithuania will take us very close to the next stage."
Siauliai has only won one of its four group games to date and lost 89-76 at Malha in its group opener. However, Goodes remains wary of the Lithuanians, who handed Aris its only loss in the competition to date.
"We may have managed to surge ahead at the end of the home game against Siauliai, but that was a tight game," Goodes said. "Siauliai is the only team to have beaten Aris and has improved since we first faced them."
American guard Derrick Low (17.8 ppg and 3.8 apg) and Arvydas Siksnius (16.5 ppg) have scored in double-digits in each of Siauliai's four group games and will be a threat once more on Tuesday.
Hapoel's Yuval Naimi has experienced an erratic European campaign so far, averaging 19.0 points per game in the team's losses, which both came on the road, and just 6.0 points in its victories.
Naimi will be hoping to continue his excellent form away from home on Tuesday, but this time as part of the winning side.
"We must focus on the future and forget what happened in the cup," Naimi said. "We had a difficult time against Siauliai at Malha, but we believe we can win in Lithuania."
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