timmy bowers 248 88.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
When Marcus Slaughter joined Hapoel Jerusalem he promised to boogie with the hometown fans. He had plenty of reasons to dance with them Tuesday night, after hitting the winning foul shot with 0.4 seconds left to give his club a scintillating 84-83 win over KKZadar.
But Slaughter - who took some celebratory dives into the arms of Malha fans after taking a victory lap around the court - wouldn't have made it to the post-game party without a huge assist from teammates Jamie Arnold and Dror Hagag, and a big one from Zadar's Corey Brewer as well.
Thanks to a huge three-pointer by Arnold that tied the score at 83 with just 30.6 seconds left, the overall play of Hagag, and four (!!) missed free throws by Brewer in the final 1:18, Jerusalem was able to escape with the victory, boosting their ULEB Cup Group I record to 3-1.
There was no rain in the forecast for Jerusalem last night, but Malha has rarely witnessed such a downpour of three-pointers by two teams in one game. A total of 46 three-pointers were attempted, with Zadar going 14 of 27 and Hapoel 11 of 19.
As if to herald what lay ahead, Zadar started things off by hitting two bombs to begin the game, one by former University of Florida standout Brewer, the other by fellow American Shamell Stallworth.
Hapoel shrugged off the early onslaught, however, with Hagag showing signs of rounding back into offensive form. The tenacious guard hit all four of his first quarter shots, two of them three-pointers, to lead Jerusalem to a 27-22 first quarter lead made possible by tight defense that resulted in four steals.
Zadar kept within range, thanks to the play of big man Todor Gecevski, a 2.09 meter tower with a three-point eye to boot.
But Jerusalem showed it had an offense to keep pace with Zadar's barrage, as Ramel Curry and Sharon Shason combined on back-to-back trifectas to boost Hapoel to a 42-33 lead.
But it was larceny that really paid off for Jerusalem, as Arnold twice stripped Zadar players of the ball, taking one in for a slam and laying in the other as Hapoel took what looked like a safe 50-43 lead into the dressing room.
It seemed like it was going to be a long night for Zadar when Brewer picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter. But seconds after scrambling for a bucket on an offensive rebound, Hapoel's energizer Hagag also picked up his fourth, and there was no one who could really fill his shoes.
Without him, Hapoel's offense sputtered and its defense was less aggressive. Behind forward Julius Johnson and the return of Brewer, Zadar turned the game around. Hapoel's shooters went cold when they did get open shots. When Gecevski hit one of his four three's of the night, Zadar had a 68-65 lead.
Hagag wouldn't be denied, however. He answered with a three of his own to tie it, and continued to hound Brewer, who jawed with him and just about anyone else who would listen throughout the game.
Talking the talk, Brewer at first also walked the walk, hitting a three with 5:30 to go to put Zadar suddenly up 74-68, and what had once seemed like an easy Hapoel victory became a nail-biter.
Arnold, showing the winning ways he picked up while with Maccabi Tel Aviv, stormed to the hoop to cut the deficit to four, then Shason rose up for a huge three to make it 74-73.
But back came the Croatian giant Gecevski with another incredible bomb from behind the arc to make it 79-73 Zadar with just over 3 minutes left. Arnold went toe to toe with him, hitting his own long one to edge Jerusalem within three with 1:50 left.
The crowd screamed itself hoarse as Brewer stepped to the foul line after stealing the ball from Shason. He missed the first. Then he missed the second.
Arnold, sensing the kill, drove for a score, but Brewer hit a jumper that bounced up above the basket before dropping back in to make it 83-80 with just :42 left.
Malha was on its feet as Arnold incredibly drilled one in from long range on the right wing to tie it with 30.6 ticks left. Brewer decided to take Hagag to the hoop, and succeeded in fouling him out of the game.
Cries of "Loser, loser," filled the air as the Zadar star stepped to the line with 13 seconds left. He missed the first. Incredibly, he then also missed the second.
Hapoel raced up court, Timmy Bowers looking for an opening. The ball found Slaughter - who until then had had a forgettable night - he angled to use the backboard and got fouled, to the delight of the fans.
A hush fell over the court as Slaughter set, shot and hit the winning foul shot with 0.4 seconds to play. That he missed the second free throw proved unimportant - it was time to boogie and celebrate the amazing 84-83 comeback win.
Arnold, who showed leadership and poise under fire and seemed to inspire his teammates, had 26 points and 12 rebounds and 2 of 3 three-pointers.
Also Tuesday, BSL league leader Ironi Nahariya was dumped out of the FIBA Eurocup in the second elimination round, despite defeating Latvian side Barons LMT 83-80 at home. Nahariya lost 161-160 on aggregate having been beaten 81-77 in the first leg last week.
Otis Hill lead the Israeli side with 26 points, two assists and eight rebounds.
Jeremy Last contributed to this report.
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