(photo credit: FIBA EUROPE Web site)
Barak Netanya and Maccabi Haifa both got their EuroChallenge Last 16 bids off to
losing starts on Tuesday night.
Netanya was edged 73-70 by Tzvika Sherf’s
Spartak St. BPetersburg in Russia, while Haifa suffered a fourth-quarter
collapse on the way to a 95- 78 defeat to Lukoil Academic Sofia in
Haifa will host Netanya in Group I next Tuesday, with both sides
desperate for a victory to boost their chances of a top-two finish in the
In Nesher, Haifa had the edge at the end of the first
period (23-19) and opened a doubledigit margin by halftime, with Marco
Killingsworth giving the hosts a 46-33 cushion.
Haifa led by as many as
16 points (55-39) in the third quarter, but the Bulgarians continued to fight
and got right back in the game with a 22-8 surge (63-61).
Stojanovski three-pointer to end the third frame brought Sofia within a single
point (69-68) and Haifa would fall to pieces in the final 10
Sofia outscored the hosts 21-1 in the first eight minutes of the
frame, humbling a Haifa team which is used to being embarrassed after losing
nine of its last 10 BSL games.
Killingsworth had 24 points for Haifa,
which also got 17 points from Frank Robinson.
Bruno Sundov and Tencho
Banev had 15 points each for the Bulgarians, who welcome St. Petersburg next
In Russia, the hosts took the early lead and were in front 18- 13
after 10 minutes.
Netanya remained in touch with Sherf’s men, with Romeo
Travis’ basket to end the first half bringing the visitors within one possession
at the break (33-30).
Netanya scored the first four points of the second
half to move into the lead, but Spartak came right back and opened a promising
nine-point gap (57- 48) with 10 minutes to play.
A basket by Petar
Popovic to open the fourth extended St.
Petersburg’s margin to
doubledigits, but Netanya fought back with an 8-0 run and never gave up
Tony Washam’s three-pointer, followed by an Adrian Banks field
goal with a minute to play, cut Spartak’s lead to three points (70-67), and
another Washam triple brought the visitors within two.
squandered a golden opportunity to tie the game from the line with six seconds
to play, missing two free-throws, and the hosts held on for the
Washam led Netanya with 23 points, with Travis scoring 16 and Elton
Brown adding 13.
Henry Domercant had 16 points for the Russians, who are
one of the favorites to win the entire competition.