Basketball: Hapoel falls again at home in EuroChallenge

In Eurocup action, Bnei Hasharon drops third straight game, 85-70, to Panellinios

HAPOEL JERUSALEM sneed 248.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Jerusalem's hopes of advancing in the EuroChallenge took a significant blow on Tuesday. Jerusalem (1-2) suffered its second home defeat of the competition, losing 88-81 to EWE Baskets Oldenburg (2-1) of Germany at Malha Arena. After being surprised by MyGuide Amsterdam in Jerusalem in its first group game, Hapoel rebounded with a road victory at Olympia Larissa last week and was surely expecting to cement second position in Group E with another victory on Tuesday. Jerusalem, however, fell behind early, trailing 27-12 after 10 minutes, and despite tying the encounter in the third period, never managed to complete its comeback. "The Germans were more motivated than us and scored very well. We didn't deserve to win," Hapoel coach Guy Goodes said. "We were inferior to them in every offensive and defensive parameter." Next week, Jerusalem visits Amsterdam and Goodes admitted that his team has now got its back against the wall. "The defeat against Oldenburg doesn't end our story, but now we need to win on the road against both the Germans and in Amsterdam," he said. Travis Watson was the one bright spot for Hapoel on Tuesday, scoring 23 points and pulling 13 rebounds. Timmy Bowers added 16 points for Jerusalem, which shot a shocking three of 19 from beyond the arc. Je'Kel Foster scored 23 points and Jason Gardner added 20 for Oldenburg, which takes sole possession of second position in the group with the victory. Also Tuesday, Bnei Hasharon (0-3) suffered its third straight Eurocup defeat, falling 85-70 to Panellinios BC (1-2) in Greece. The loss means Bnei Hasharon is all but out of the competition as it now needs to win its remaining three group games and also hope other results go its way. Richard Roby scored 18 points and Cookie Belcher added 13 points as well as eight turnovers. Ball handling was Bnei Hasharon's biggest problem, with Ariel Beit-Halachmi's team turning over the ball an astounding 24 times. The locals got 22 points from Ivan Radenovic, with Stevan Nadjfeji adding 20 points and 10 rebounds. Bnei Hasharon, which needed a police escort throughout its stay in Athens because of the violent protests in the Greek capital, began the game well and led 19-18 after 10 minutes. The encounter remained tight in the second period, with the hosts leading by a single point at the interval (41-40). A 10-0 Panellinios start to the second half, however, opened a double-digit margin from which there was no return for Bnei Hasharon. At Malha, Bowers gave the hosts a 10-9 lead midway through the first quarter, but Hapoel would only score two points in the final five minutes of the quarter. Oldenburg stunned Jerusalem with a quarter ending 18-2 run and was in front by 15 points (27-12) after 10 minutes. Hapoel cut into the deficit immediately with a 7-0 run, capped by a Yuval Naimi three-pointer, bringing the team within eight points. Another Naimi basket reduced the gap to four points (31-27) and four Sharon Sasson points in the final minute of the first half meant Jerusalem was only down by three points at the break (39-36). Bowers free-throws midway through the third quarter tied the score at 48-48, but just when it seemed the hosts would complete their comeback, the Germans pulled ahead once more. A 10-1 run, capped by a Gardner basket, opened a double-digit margin (61-51) and the visitors took a 66-59 lead into the final 10 minutes. Moran Rot's basket in the early stages of fourth quarter brought the hosts back within a single possession (66-63), but that would prove to be as close as they'd get. Oldenburg raced ahead in the subsequent minutes and Foster's three-point play with just over two minutes to play extended the gap to 10 points (81-71) and clinched the victory.