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Hapoel Jerusalem requires a perfect display from Richard Howell (in red) & Co. to have any chance of handing Bayern Munich its first Eurocup defeat of the season..(Photo by: DANNY MARON)
Jerusalem targeting Eurocup upset in Munich
Hapoel looking to snap losing streak against unbeaten Bayern to boost Top 16 hopes
After losing its past three games over all competitions, and with its Eurocup fate hanging by a thread, Hapoel Jerusalem’s visit to Bayern Munich on Wednesday night could have hardly come at a worse time.

Hapoel sits bottom of Eurocup Group B with a 2-5 record after losing by 17 points at Buducnost in Montenegro last week. Jerusalem is still only one game back of Lietkabelis Panevezys and Reggio Emilia in third and fourth place in the standings, with the top four to advance to the Top 16. However, its continued struggles this season, combined with the fact that it will only have two more regular season games to play following the encounter in Munich, leave Hapoel in an almost desperate position.

Bayern is a perfect 7-0 in the Eurocup, winning its games by an average 15.9 points per contest. Munich, which is also 12-1 in the German league, won 91-83 in Jerusalem in late October, but its margin of the victory didn’t do its dominance justice. Hapoel was outplayed by Bayern from the start, with the Germans outscoring the hosts 31-12 in the first 10 minutes. Bayern led by as many as 23 points (78-55) before Jerusalem made the final score slightly more respectable.

The promotion of Mody Maor to the head coach position seemed to initially help the team get back on track, with Hapoel winning his first three games at the helm. But Jerusalem has lost its three contests since, including a humbling defeat at Hapoel Gilboa/Galil in BSL play on Saturday.

Regardless of the outcome of Wednesday’s game, Jerusalem will still remain in contention ahead of next week’s home clash against Reggio Emilia. Maor’s team ends the regular season with a game at Galatasaray in Istanbul in two weeks.

Galatasaray improved to 3-5 on Tuesday with an 82-61 win over Buducnost, which fell to 4-4. Reggio Emilia hosts Panevezys on Wednesday, with the winner to move to 4-4 and the loser to drop to 3-5.

“A lot of things have changed for the Jerusalem team since we last played them,” said Bayern coach Sasa Djordjevic. “They have a new coach and their experienced forward Kinsey is back from an injury. “These kind of changes can shift your momentum as a team, and it is on us to prevent that.”

Maor insisted his team is capable of handing Bayern its first Eurocup loss.

“It will be a challenging game. We know that we will face a tough team and I believe that our experienced players understand we will have to bring high intensity and focus in order to challenge Bayern on their home court,” he explained. “With that said, we still believe in our offensive and defensive efforts to get out of this game with a positive result.”

Maor will have Micky Gorka by his side for the first time after he was appointed as his new assistant coach on Monday. Gorka was fired by Bnei Herzliya last week after beginning the season with a 2-6 record.

“We will have to be first to every ball to have any chance,” said Hapoel guard Yogev Ohayon. “We are still dreaming of reaching the Top16 and as long as we have a chance we will give our all.”
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