Jerusalem still kicking, but just barely

Hapoel beats Partizan in Belgrade for its 2nd Eurocup win, ensuring it still has something to play for.

Donta Smith (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Donta Smith
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Despite finally claiming its second win of the Eurocup regular season on Wednesday, Hapoel Jerusalem’s lingering hopes of qualifying for the Last 32 are hanging by a thread.
Jerusalem beat Partizan Belgrade 83-64 in Serbia, but improved to just 2-6 in Group E and still doesn’t have its fate in its own hands entering the final two games of the regular season.
Thanks to the Eurocup’s format which sees four of the group’s six teams progress to the next stage, Jerusalem is still alive, but it remains two games behind fourth place CSU Ploiesti, which beat Banvit Bandirma 84-74 on Wednesday to improve to 4-4.
Jerusalem hosts Ploiesti next week and will have to defeat the Romanians by at least nine points to maintain any hope of advancing.
Should Hapoel do so, it will then need to overcome Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius the following week and for Partizan to register an unlikely upset against Ploiesti in Romania.
After a tight first half ended in a 37-35 Partizan lead, Jerusalem pulled ahead in the third quarter and dominated the final 10 minutes.
Hapoel scored 12 of the final 16 points of the third frame to take a nine-point cushion (62-53) into the fourth period, before outscoring Belgrade 21-11 to claim a comfortable victory.
Joseph Jones led Hapoel with 16 points, while Derwin Kitchen and Bracey Wright added 15 and 14 points, respectively, for Hapoel.
Milan Macvan had 26 points and 12 rebounds for Partizan (1-7).
In other local hoops news, FIBA announced on Wednesday that Israel has officially submitted its candidature to host the 2018 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup.
Formerly known as the FIBA World Championship for Women, 2018 will mark the first time that FIBA’s flagship event for women’s basketball is played under its new name.
“Israel has a huge passion for basketball. There are few countries where basketball is as popular as or more popular than football. Israel is one of these,” said Israel Basketball Association president Amiram Halevy.
The cities of Tel Aviv, Haifa, Holon and Jerusalem have been earmarked as possible venues.
“Israel has an extensive international experience - and proven success in organizing and hosting large-scale sporting events,” said the head of the Israel Sport Authority, Uri Schaefer.
“Our Ministry will provide the IBA with the financial support and the relevant assistance.”