Basketball: Hapoel Jerusalem out of Eurocup, Maccabi Tel Aviv in trouble

Hapoel Jerusalem guard Yotam Halperin (right) and forward Lior Eliyahu react after their team was eliminated from Eurocup (photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Jerusalem guard Yotam Halperin (right) and forward Lior Eliyahu react after their team was eliminated from Eurocup
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Jerusalem lost all hope of progressing to the Eurocup round of 16 on Wednesday night, while Maccabi Tel Aviv still has plenty of work to do after suffering its second straight defeat in the competition.
Hapoel knew it had to beat Strasbourg at the Jerusalem Arena to maintain any lingering chance of reaching the next stage. However, a 24-4 run by the visitors in the first quarter and the start of the second opened a 16-point gap (31-15) which Jerusalem failed to overturn, falling to a 79-69 loss and 0-4 in Last 32 Group H.
Josh Duncan had 16 points for Jerusalem, which closed within three points early in the second half, but entered the final frame down by 10 points (58-48) and trailed by double digits throughout the last quarter.
“This isn’t our best period but we will overcome it,” said Jerusalem coach Danny Franco. “We will make the adjustments we need to make and we will be better than this.”
Kyle Weems led five Strasbourg (4-0) players in double figures with 15 points.
Maccabi dropped to 2-2 in Group M following a 78-68 loss at Unics Kazan. Tel Aviv lost to the Russians by 10 points for the second time in a week, closing within a single possession early in the fourth frame (54-51) only to subsequently be outscored 12-3 by Kazan, opening a 12-point margin (66-54) from which Maccabi could not return.
The yellow-and-blue trailed by 11 points (43-32) at the break, but fought back to tie the score at 50-50 with 1:20 minutes remaining in the third quarter following a Devin Smith three-pointer.
However, the hosts reestablished a double-digit cushion early in the fourth period and Maccabi faces a head-to-head battle with Nizhny Novgorod for second place in the group and a place in the next stage.
Novgorod improved to 2-2 on Wednesday with an 81-74 win over Olimpija Ljubljana. Maccabi visits Ljubljana next week, while Nizhny hosts Kazan. However, regardless of next week’s results, second place in the group will be decided the following week when Maccabi hosts Nizhny at Yad Eliyahu Arena. Tel Aviv beat Novgorod 87-83 on the road two weeks ago.
Sylven Landesberg led Maccabi with 16 points and 11 rebounds on Wednesday, while Trevor Mbakwe added 15 points and 12 boards.
Former Maccabi guard Keith Langford led Kazan with 20 points and nine boards after scoring 30 points in Tel Aviv last week.
“Of course I’m not pleased with the result, but I think we put in a big effort,” said Maccabi coach Zan Tabak. “We played on the road against a very strong team, one of the strongest in the competition. We showed character by coming back to tie the score, but three tactical mistakes cost us the game and we didn’t have enough energy to fight back. We must bounce back and improve in order to win our final two games and secure our progress.”
Gal Mekel had eight points and eight assists in his Eurocup debut for Maccabi, which was missing the injured Brian Randle, Yogev Ohayon and Dragan Bender and was still without new signings Elijah Millsap and Cedric Simmons.
Elsewhere Wednesday, Maccabi Rishon Lezion secured its progress to the Europe Cup round of 16 despite suffering an 81-71 defeat at ASVEL Basket Villeurbanne of France. Rishon fell to 3-2, but is certain to finish no lower than second place in Group O after Novo Mesto beat Kataja 76-70 earlier Wednesday.