(photo credit: FIBA Europe website)
Barak Netanya’s hopes of advancing to the quarterfinals of the EuroChallenge were all but dashed on Tuesday, while Maccabi Haifa’s chances of progressing also took a hefty blow.
Netanya suffered an 84-76 defeat to Lukoil Academic Sofia in Bulgaria, falling to an 0-3 record in Group I.
Haifa dropped to 1-2 in the same group after being thrashed 101-60 by Tzvika Sherf’s Spartak St. Petersburg in Russia.
In Bulgaria, the hosts began the game with a 7-0 run, but Netanya came right back and had a 21-20 edge after 10 minutes.
However, a 19-2 run by Sofia towards the end of the first half gave the Bulgarians a stranglehold on the game and the hosts led by 14-points (48-34) at the break.
A Tony Younger three-pointer brought Netanya within one possession (67-64) three minutes into the fourth quarter, and a single point (75-74) is all that separated the teams after Romeo Travis hit two freethrows with 1:33 to play.
However, Netanya could not complete the comeback and lost its third successive game in the Last 16.
Travis had 32 points and 14 rebounds for Netanya, with Travis Peterson scoring 17 for the winners.
Haifa entered its encounter in Russia boosted by claiming just its second BSL win in its past 13 games on Sunday, but it was completely outplayed by St. Petersburg and suffered a humbling defeat.
It didn’t take Sherf’s men long to build a significant lead, with Henry Domercant’s basket to end the first frame opening a 15-point cushion (33-18).
Haifa managed to close to within six points (34-28) midway through the second quarter, and at the break the visitors had some hope, trailing 44-33.
However, the Russians outscored the Greens 30-12 in the third period and continued to pour salt on Haifa’s wounds in the closing stages on the way to a 41-point margin victory.
Marco Killingsworth had 13 points for Haifa, with Domercant leading six St. Petersburg players in double-figures with 21 points.