Jerusalem grabs OT Champions League triumph • Holon loses

Hapoel Jerusalem downed a pesky Manresa in Spain 90-85 in overtime to finish the regular season group stage with a 3-3 record, Besiktas stunned Hapoel Holon 73-72 to take a 1-0 lead.

 HAPOEL JERUSALEM’S Retin Obasohan drives during the Reds’ 90-85 overtime victory yesterday over host Manresa in Champions League action. (photo credit: FIBA/COURTESY)
HAPOEL JERUSALEM’S Retin Obasohan drives during the Reds’ 90-85 overtime victory yesterday over host Manresa in Champions League action.
(photo credit: FIBA/COURTESY)

With Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Euroleague game against Baskonia postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak, Hapoel Jerusalem and Hapoel Holon took center stage in continental action that resulted in mixed results.

On Thursday, Hapoel Jerusalem downed a pesky Manresa in Spain 90-85 in overtime to finish the regular season group stage with a 3-3 record and earn home-court advantage against Prometey in the best-of-three play-in series for the right to advance to the Round of 16.

Retin Obasohan and Suleiman Briamoh’s play throughout the 45 minutes proved to be critical for Yotam Halperin’s team while Jalen Adams and Adam Ariel’s timely scoring cancelled out Sylvain Francisco’s 22 points for Manresa.

Obasohan led the way with 19 points and 12 assists, Braimoh led all scorers with 22 points while Adams and Ariel each scored 15 points in the win.

Jerusalem will now face Prometey from the Ukraine and welcome a number of familiar faces back to the Holy Land, beginning with Israeli head coach Ronen Ginzburg. D’Angelo Harrison, Chris Dowe and DJ Kennedy will also return to Israel after having played in the league at various stages over the past decade.

 IONNIS SFAIROPOULOS (left) and Scottie Wilbekin have had plenty of good times together with Maccabi Tel Aviv, but need to figure out how to halt the team's current slump. (credit: DOV HALICKMAN PHOTOGRAPHY) IONNIS SFAIROPOULOS (left) and Scottie Wilbekin have had plenty of good times together with Maccabi Tel Aviv, but need to figure out how to halt the team's current slump. (credit: DOV HALICKMAN PHOTOGRAPHY)

Jerusalem will have a full squad for the upcoming series, including newcomers Noam Dovrat and John Egbunu, who were unable to play in the Manresa game since the original game date was scheduled before the players had signed with the Reds and had been delayed due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the Spanish team a couple of weeks ago.

“I’m proud of the players and I think it was one of the best games in the Champions League,” Halperin said. “I am proud of them not just because we didn’t have a full roster and that we came here and won the game, but because they fought all the way from the first second until the end. We need to remember that we are still on our way and all we did here was get home-court advantage.”

Obasohan, the game’s MVP, also reflected on the victory.

“It was a battle and we had two teams that were playing for bragging rights and a lot to do with the season going forward. I have to give all my teammates the most credit and everyone on the staff. We all came here to duke it out. I’m proud of everybody in the organization as this was a huge win for us especially as to how we began the Champions League.”

In other Champion League action, Besiktas stunned Hapoel Holon 73-72 as Isaiah Whitehead’s last-gasp layup canceled out late Guy Pnini’s three-pointer to win the game on the road with an undermanned squad and take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-three series.

Adam Smith took over for the Israeli hosts in the second half, but Whitehead matched him shot for shot as the game went down to the wire.

Pnini hit a three-pointer on a gorgeous team play to give Holon a 72-70 advantage with 9.5 seconds left in the contest, but Whitehead again came up huge with his game-winning bucket to send the series to Turkey with Besiktas in the driver’s seat.

On Thursday, Holon relieved head coach Maurizio Buscaglia of his duties and the club is now in the market for a new bench boss ahead of next week’s game, with Guy Goodes – who was just let go by Maccabi Rishon Lezion – being the leading candidate to take over.

In Israeli league play, Hapoel Tel Aviv ran away with a 97-64 victory over Hapoel Eilat to win its fourth league game in a row.