Sizzling Reds aim to stay perfect in Last 32

After a rocky start to the season, Jerusalem has been in relentless form over the past two months.

January 22, 2014 00:03
2 minute read.
Hapoel Jerusalem forward Lior Eliyahu goes up for two points

Hapoel Jerusalem forward Lior Eliyahu goes up for two points. (photo credit: ASAF KLIGER)


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Two days after recording its 10th win in a row in the BSL, Hapoel Jerusalem will be looking to register its fifth-straight Eurocup victory and improve to 3-0 in the Last 32 when it hosts Budivelnik Kiev at Malha Arena on Wednesday night.

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After a rocky start to the season, Jerusalem has been in relentless form over the past two months.

The Reds have been unbeaten in local league action during that period and have been impressive time and again in continental play, crushing the Turkish league leader Banvit Bandirma 92-73 last week.

Hapoel took its BSL-best record to 13-3 with Monday’s 71-64 victory at Hapoel Holon and can move to the brink of qualification for the Eurocup eighth-finals by extending its perfect start to the Last 32 on Wednesday.

Kiev began the season in the Euroleague, but was demoted to the Eurocup Last 32 after finishing regular season Group A in last place with a 2-8 record.

The Ukrainians lost to Banvit in Turkey in their Last 32 opener, but moved to 1-1 with a home win over Olimpija Ljubljana last week.


Nevertheless, Kiev has dropped all six of its road games in European competitions this season, a streak Jerusalem will be aiming to extend on Wednesday.

One of Jerusalem’s stars over the past couple of months has been forward Lior Eliyahu.

The 28-year-old only joined Hapoel in mid-November after sitting out the first month of the campaign following his departure from Maccabi Tel Aviv last summer.

Hapoel hasn’t lost in the BSL since Eliyahu’s addition, while also winning five of six Eurocup encounters since the forward made his debut.

Eliyahu has scored in double figures in six straight continental contests, averaging 11.4 points and 5.4 rebounds in the Eurocup and 14.9 points and 6.6 rebounds in the BSL.

“I’m really having fun in Jerusalem,” said Eliyahu after registering 25 points and 15 rebounds in the win over Holon.

“I’m getting a lot of minutes to prove myself and I’m in good form."

“The team is on a winning streak and we want to extend it. We want to already close in on Eurocup progress with another victory on Wednesday.”

After falling to a humbling 39-point defeat at Khimki Moscow last week, Maccabi Haifa faces another daunting opponent when it hosts Montepaschi Siena at Romema Arena on Wednesday.

Haifa was completely outplayed in Moscow and fell to 1-1 in Group K, but it bounced back to claim its fourth win from its past five local league games on Sunday, defeating Hapoel Eilat 80-60.

The seven-time defending Italian champion was surprisingly sent packing from the Euroleague after ending the regular season with a 3-7 record.

Siena has also been somewhat disappointing in the Eurocup to date, beginning the Last 32 with two-straight defeats, at home to Khimki and on the road to CEZ Nymburk.

“We expect a challenging game against the Italian champions,” said Haifa coach Danny Franco. “Siena is an experienced top Euroleague team that plays high quality basketball at both sides of the floor. We will do our best to earn a prestigious victory for our team.”

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