311_Yuval Naimi of Hapo Jlem.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Despite needing just one win from its remaining two Eurocup regular season games to advance to the Last 16, Hapoel Jerusalem coach Oded Katash is desperate for his team to wrap up its progress with a victory over VEF Riga in Latvia on Tuesday.
Jerusalem tops Group G with a 3-1 record after last week’s convincing victory over CEZ Nymburk, and another win against Riga will go a long way to securing first position in the group as well as mathematically sealing the team’s place in the next stage.
“We need to book our place in the last 16 because our group could get complicated,” Katash said. “Defense will be the key, especially as we are playing on the road.”
Brian Randle and Yogev Ohayon, both of whom missed Saturday’s BSL victory over Barak Netanya due to injury, should play in Latvia.
Ohayon is hoping to contribute to what would be a key victory.
“It was difficult for me to watch Saturday’s game from the bench, but I hope I can help the team in Riga,” Ohayon said. “This is an important game that we need to win if we want to finish first in the group and guarantee our progress.
Riga still has a chance to advance after last week’s victory over Cajasol Sevilla so we will have to fight to return home with the win.”
After losing its regular season opener in Jerusalem, Riga went on to drop two more games before stunning Sevilla 83- 82 at home last week to improve to 1-3.
Guard Kristaps Janicenoks led the Latvians with 23 points at Malha Arena, and after his 32-point performance against the Spaniards last week, will surely be the main target of the Hapoel defense.
With a tricky home game against Sevilla coming up next week, Hapoel players hope to lock up a top-two finish with a win in Latvia.
“We are expecting a tough game against a strong home team which will want to build on the momentum from last week’s win,” Dion Dowell said. “We are close to achieving our goal of advancing to the next stage, but we will only accomplish it with a lot of determination and concentration.”
In Group G’s other game, Sevilla hosts Nymburk, with a win for the visitors coupled with a Jerusalem victory securing Hapoel first place with a game to spare.
Hapoel Gilboa/Galil still has an outside chance of advancing from Eurocup Group D, but only if it wins its final two games, starting with the encounter against Cedevita Zagreb at Gan Ner on Tuesday.
Gilboa’s only victory so far was in Zagreb, and it will have to beat the Croatians once more to remain in contention entering its final group game at Aris Thessaloniki next week.
“We still believe we have a chance to advance,” said guard Gal Mekel, whose team will also need other results to go its way to finish in the top-two. “We want to beat Cedevita and we believe we can win in Thessaloniki.”
Netanya can advance to the last 16 of the EuroChallenge on Tuesday with a win in Sweden over the Norrkoping Dolphins.
Netanya has won three straight continental games since losing its opener and leads Group D with a 3-1 record.
Maccabi Haifa visits Khimik Yuzhny in Group B, looking to gain some confidence after falling to a fifth straight BSL victory on Sunday.
Haifa, which has a 2-1 record, hosts Yuzhny on Thursday in the game that was originally postponed after the Ukrainians had their passports stolen last month.
In BSL action on Monday, Hapoel Holon claimed its third straight
victory, defeating Maccabi Rishon Lezion 87-85 on the road thanks to
Kasib Powell’s layup at the buzzer.
Robert Hite had 27 points and nine rebounds for Holon, with Moran Rot
adding 25 points to help his team win what was a tight game throughout.
Dwayne Mitchell had 21 points and 12 rebounds for Rishon, which has lost three straight games.