Basketball: Jerusalem, Holon triumph in continental play

Reds rout Prometey in opener of Champions League series • Purples stave off elimination vs Besiktas

 HAPOEL JERUSALEM guard Jalen Adams (left) drives to the hoop during the Reds’ 95-70 victory over Ukrainian side Prometey in Champion League Play-In action (photo credit: DANNY MARON)
HAPOEL JERUSALEM guard Jalen Adams (left) drives to the hoop during the Reds’ 95-70 victory over Ukrainian side Prometey in Champion League Play-In action
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)

Both Israeli teams in European playoff action came away as winners this week as Hapoel Jerusalem began its series with a Game 1 win over Prometey, while Hapoel Holon stayed alive at Besiktas in Istanbul to even its best-of-three series at a game apiece, with the decisive duel slated for next week back home.

Jerusalem crushed Prometey 95-70 in a contest that was never that close to open the FIBA Champions League Play-In with a victory. The Reds came out shooting lights out and went 9-of-10 from three-point range to grab a 40-16 lead after 10 minutes and never looked back as Jalen Adams, Adam Ariel and Retin Obasohan set the tone early to cruise to the blowout win.

Game 2 will take place next Tuesday in Ukraine as Jerusalem head coach Yotam Halperin’s team will look to close out the series and punch its ticket to the Round of 16 group stage.

Ariel led all scorers with 24 points – going 6-of-8 from long distance – Obasohan added 19 points and Adams scored 18 points, hitting 4-of-5 from deep.

Illya Sydorov scored 15 points, Oleksandr Lypovyy chipped in with 14 points and D’Angelo Harrison scored 13 points for Prometey in the loss.

“This was a very good game and we had to stay aggressive until the end,” Halperin said. “When the shots go in it helps too, but we are only up 1-0 in the series. We have seen a lot over the course of our careers and after a game like this you have to come into the next game really prepared and not complacent to make sure you are ready to go.”

 HAPOEL JERUSALEM’S Sean Kilpatrick (right) drives to the hoops past Hapoel Beersheba defender Amit Suss for two of his game-high 28 points in the Reds’ 90-72 home victory over the Southerners on Monday night in Winner League action. (credit: LIRON MOLDOVAN/BSL) HAPOEL JERUSALEM’S Sean Kilpatrick (right) drives to the hoops past Hapoel Beersheba defender Amit Suss for two of his game-high 28 points in the Reds’ 90-72 home victory over the Southerners on Monday night in Winner League action. (credit: LIRON MOLDOVAN/BSL)

Prometey’s Israeli coach Ronen Neno Ginzburg spoke about his team’s lack of energy.

“The game was decided after five minutes and we didn’t compete today,” said Ginzburg. “This was our worst game and mine as a coach. I know why it happened and I believe we will be better next game.”

Ariel, who was named the game’s most valuable player, also spoke about the win.

“We came out with high energy and lots of intensity. When you do that, then it all falls in place and it gives you a lot of confidence. But this is a series and we have to come out like this next week.”

Adams and Kaiser Gates began the game with triples to put Jerusalem on the board very early on, and Harrison drilled one home for Prometey. However, points by Suleiman Braimoh, another three-pointer by Adams and one from Obasohan gave Halperin’s squad a quick 14-3 lead midway through the first quarter.

Adams dialed it up from long distance for a third time and Braimoh scored from inside, but Sydorov and Viacheslav Petrov countered. A corner three from Willy Workman, a dunk by Obasohan and a trio of triples by Ariel put Hapoel up by 24 points after the first quarter

Noam Dovrat got into the act with a three-pointer of his own to get the second quarter off and running, while Adams went from downtown yet again. But Harrison and Sydorov began heating up for Ginsburg’s team, which was still in a 49-26 hole with 6:32 left until halftime.

Ariel couldn’t miss from long range, Adams scored a driving layup before Harrison, DJ Stephens and Sydorov answered at the other end, but the Reds headed into the break holding a 62-40 lead.

Itay Segev got the third quarter underway as he finished off a nice team play in the paint, Obasohan drilled home a three-pointer and Braimoh gracefully scored inside to bump up the lead to 69-40 midway through the frame.

Obasohan and Dovrat went from beyond the arc, while Chris Dowe and Miro Bilan found points for Prometey but Jerusalem led 78-47 after 30 minutes

Ariel scored at will to begin the fourth quarter, Braimoh added points while the visitors cleared their bench in garbage time galore. Lypovyy scored in bunches, but it was too little and too late with Jerusalem cruising to the 25-point win.

Meanwhile, Holon slipped by Besiktas 72-70 thanks to a clutch three-pointer by Guy Pnini to stave off elimination and force a “rubber match” next week in Israel. The victory marked brand new head coach Guy Goodes first with his new club after taking over the reins from Maurizio Buscaglia, who was let go after last week’s opening defeat at home to the Turkish squad.

The hosts came out flying early as they grabbed a quick 26-13 lead after the first quarter, but Adam Smith and Rafi Menco began scoring at will to pull the Purples to within seven points, 44-37, at halftime.

Goodes had his squad playing airtight defense in the third period as Chris Johnson and company held Besiktas to just 11 points to cut down the lead to just a pair of points (65-63) heading into the final frame.

Both teams went back and forth over the course of the fourth quarter as Joe Ragland orchestrated the Holon offense, and with 18 seconds left in regulation, Pnini gave Goodes’s squad the lead for good to wrap up the win and send the series back to the Holy Land.

Johnson led all scorers with 18 points, Menco added 14 points, Smith chipped in with 11 points and Ragland scored 10 points and dished out nine assists in the win.

Egehan Arna scored 17 points, Kenan Sipahi added 15 points and Dedric Lawson scored 13 points for Besiktas in the defeat.

“I want to congratulate our organization that we won here in a tough situation against a good team,” Goodes said. “The players showed a lot of effort and in the last quarter, we played better defense. Guy Pnini made a big three-point shot from the corner. We took this to the third game and that was our goal. We are looking forward to that game.“

Besiktas coach Ahmet Kandemir pointed out how conditioning and health definitely played a role.

“Holon were able to postpone a game and it made a difference in our stamina and our players showed their fatigue,” noted Kandemir following the game. “Isaiah Whitehead was missing for us and we had a couple of players who came back, but didn’t play at their peak because this was the first game back after injuries. I congratulate Holon. We are balanced and equal teams.”

Johnson, the game’s MVP, also reflected on the close win.

“Tonight we showed a lot of character. We picked up in the second quarter and we stayed together. We stayed awake in the second half and we had Guy [Pnini], who made a clutch shot for us.”