Hapoel Jerusalem improved to 2-0 in the Eurocup Last 32 with an extremely impressive 92-73 victory over Banvit Bandirma at Malha Arena on Wednesday night, while Maccabi Haifa suffered one of its more humbling defeats in recent years, falling to an 87-48 loss at Khimki Moscow.
After an erratic first quarter, Jerusalem dominated Bandirma, outscoring the Turkish side 71-47 in the remaining three periods. After scoring just two points between them in the first half, Yotam Halperin and Lior Eliyahu netted a combined 18 points in the first seven minutes of the third frame, leading their team to a double-digit gap that only grew in the fourth quarter.
“This was a good win. We played an exceptional second half,” said Jerusalem coach Brad Greenberg, whose team also leads the BSL with a 12-3 record after winning nine straight league games. “Our guys really enjoy playing with each other and this is an amazing group. I’m lucky because the guys want to learn and do better. They know that if we want to do something significant they have to get better. It’s a good group but we have to stay course because it’s a long journey.”
Josh Duncan had 17 points and 12 rebounds for Hapoel, with Bracey Wright, who only joined the team last week, contributing 17 points and five assists. Halperin added 16 points and Derwin Kitchen scored 14 while Eliyahu finished with 12 points.
Earl Rowland led Banvit (1-1) with 22 points.
Rowland ended the first quarter with eight points, helping the Turks to open an early 11-point gap (20-9) before the hosts limited the damage and closed to within five points (26-21) after 10 minutes.
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Jerusalem scored the first six points of the second period to move into the lead, but held just a four-point advantage (48- 44) at the break.
However, the Israeli double act of Halperin and Eliyahu seized control of the encounter at the start of the third quarter, going on a personal 12-0 run to begin the frame (60-44). The visitors took almost four minutes to score their first points of the second half and they never came close to erasing the deficit, with Jerusalem steamrolling the Turks in the final frame on the way to a resounding win.
Haifa didn’t enter the encounter in Moscow with high expectations, but surely the Greens weren’t expecting to finish it on the wrong end of a 39-point humiliation.
Khimki came into the contest on the back of a 10-game Eurocup winning streak and it outplayed Haifa from the start, scoring the first nine points of the night before taking a 19-5 gap into the second period.
Marko Popovic’s three-pointer took Khimki’s lead to 21 points (29-8) before the midway point of the second quarter and the rest of the showdown was no more than garbage time.
Dagan Yavzuri had 11 points for Haifa, which fell to 1-1.
Kresimir Loncar led Khimki with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
“We hadn’t met a team of the level of Khimki this season and that showed in the way we handled them,” said Haifa coach Danny Franco. “A lot of things have to happen to lose in such a way.”
Despite the embarrassing defeat, Franco did his best to remain upbeat.
“After 30 games this season, we know what we are worth,” he added. “We will put this game behind us, learn what we can from it and focus on Sunday’s BSL game against Hapoel Eilat.”
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