(photo credit: BSL)
Hapoel Gilboa/Galil’s Euroleague dream seems set to end on Friday night after
the reigning Israeli champion fell to a 97-84 defeat to Hemofarm Stada Vrsac in
the first leg of the first qualifying round at the Nokia Arena on Tuesday
Gilboa had hoped to at least take a slender lead into the return
leg in Serbia on Friday. But after coming back from a 14-point deficit to open
an eight-point advantage in the third quarter, the hosts were outscored 30- 12
in the fourth period and will in all likelihood see their Euroleague campaign
come to an end in two days time.
“We paid a heavy price for our
mistakes,” said Gilboa coach Lior Lubin, who replaced Oded Katash at the helm.
“We came back from a doublefigure deficit to lead by eight points, but that was
not enough. The players at least gained some experience and I believe we will be
a good team.”
With only four players remaining from last season’s roster
and with just three players being older than 25, Gilboa’s inexperience was
costing it dearly at the beginning of the game.
Vrsac opened an early
19-5 lead, but a 29-point second quarter saw Gilboa close to within just two
points at halftime.
Lubin’s team moved ahead in the third period, but
after leading by as many as eight points, Gilboa lost its composure in the final
10 minutes, and assuming it doesn’t record a miracle victory on Friday night, it
will have to settle for a place in the Eurocup regular season.
at least see some positives ahead of the BSL season.
big-man Tyler Wilkerson scored 20 points and hauled down five rebounds, with
Jack McClinton contributing 18 points and Gal Mekel adding 15
Lubin does, however, have plenty of work to do to improve his
team’s defensive play.
Milan Macvan scored 31 points on 13 of 16 from the
field for Vrsac, with Bojan Krstovic adding 22 points, including six of eight
from beyond the arc.
“We felt we could win the game, but we paid the
price for all the summer changes,” Mekel said. “I believe that we will improve
The hosts missed their first five field goals and dropped to
a quick 10-2 deficit.
Lubin’s men hit just two of their first 11 shots,
and with the Serbs scoring at will, Vrsac was ahead by a record 14-points (19-5)
following Krstovic’s three-pointer.
Gilboa would slightly limit the
damage by the end of the first period, but was still trailing by double-figures
(26-16) after 10 minutes.
A Warren Carter three-point move edged Gilboa
closer at the start of the second quarter and the hosts would eat away at the
gap as the period progressed.
Wilkerson’s on-target free-throws closed
the margin to five points (40- 35) and a McClinton trey brought the Israeli
champs within one possession (45-43).
The hosts still trailed by two
points at the break (47-45), but they wouldn’t take long to move into the
McClinton’s triple to start the second half put Hapoel in front and
Gilboa led 56-52 after a Mekel threepoint play.
Vrsac quickly tied the
score, but Gilboa continued to show how much potential it has and was ahead with
10 minutes to play.
Gur Porat’s three opened a 67-61 advantage and two
more points by Mekel extended the margin to eight points
Krstovic ensured the visitors were only down by five points
(72-67) entering the final frame, and thanks to the excellent Macvan, Vrsac tied
the score with a 5-0 run to start the period.
The Serbian league
runner-up would not stop there, and with Gilboa completely losing its rhythm,
Vrsac took total control with a 20-2 run.
Krstovic’s three-point move
capped the run (84-74) and the visitors would cruise to a victory that all but
clinches their place in the Euroleague’s second qualifying round.