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Hapoel Jerusalem coach Simone Pianigiani (left) and center Amar’e Stoudemire,.(Photo by: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Jerusalem makes things trickier for itself with loss
A win over Ulm, which thrashed Jerusalem by 26 points when they played in Germany last month, will secure second place for Hapoel.
Hapoel Jerusalem lost all hope of winning Eurocup Group D on Wednesday night, but more worryingly did so by dropping to a dejecting 88-68 defeat at Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar in Russia.

Jerusalem secured its qualification to the Top 16 with an 81-69 victory over Olimpija Ljubljana last week. But it fell to a 4-3 record in Russia and will battle for second place in its final group game against Ulm at the Jerusalem Arena next week, with its heavy loss combined with Valencia’s 75-72 win over Ljubljana clinching first place for the Spaniards.

A win over Ulm, which thrashed Jerusalem by 26 points when they played in Germany last month, will secure second place for Hapoel.

A defeat could see it advance to the next round only from fourth position and result in a more difficult draw in the Top 16, should Kuban also beat Valencia. A loss to Ulm combined with a Valencia win will see Jerusalem progress from third place.

Jerusalem entered the game on the back of four straight wins over all competitions. But its display on Wednesday was more reminiscent of its form in the previous month when it lost five consecutive contests.

Curtis Jerrells scored 17 points for Hapoel, with Amar’e Stoudemire adding 16 points.

Kevin Jones netted 22 points for Kuban, which improved to 3-4, with former Jerusalem player Matt Janning contributing 20 points.

Jerusalem struggled from the start in Russia, with Janning giving the hosts an early double-digit cushion (14-4).

Kuban’s lead reached 14 points (20-6) before Hapoel scored the final seven points of the period to limit the damage. A Jerrells three-pointer capped a 12-0 run which moved Jerusalem within a single possession (20-18), but Kuban never lost the lead, taking a seven-point margin (42- 35) into the break.

Hapoel looked to be well placed when Jerome Dyson’s triple cut the deficit to just three points (48-45), but Kuban replied with a 15-2 surge (63-47), capped by a Janning three, and cruised to the win after entering the fourth period with a 14-point gap (66-52).

Also Wednesday, Ironi Nahariya dropped to 3-5 in FIBA Champions League Group A after its three-game winning streak in the competition was snapped with an 85-77 defeat to Banvit Bandirma in Turkey.

Gilbert Brown and Yancy Gates had 16 points each for Nahariya, with Jordan Theodore scoring 17 points for Banvit, which took a 15-point margin (69-54) into the final frame and never lost control.

On Tuesday, Maccabi Rishon Lezion fell to 3-5 in Group B, being outplayed in an 88-69 home loss to Kataja of Finland.
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