Basketball: Hapoel J'lem through to Eurocup last 16
Basketball Hapoel Jlem
By ALLON SINAI
Pooh Jeter and Brandon Hunter combined for 50 points and led Hapoel Jerusalem to a 96-81 victory over BC Siauliai in Lithuania on Tuesday night, booking the team's place in the last 16 of the Eurocup.
After a tight first period, Hapoel opened a double-digit margin in the second quarter and fought off Siauliai's comeback attempts in the second half to claim what was eventually a comfortable victory.
Jerusalem's progress to the next stage was secured later in the evening after Aris Thessaloniki defeated KK Zadar 73-67 in Greece.
Hapoel hosts Aris at Malha Arena next Tuesday in the battle for first position in Group C.
"We recorded an important victory thanks to a team effort," Hapoel coach Guy Goodes said.
"Hunter and Jeter were superb and the rest of the guys got the job done as well. This was a difficult trip, but we are the better team and we played the right way."
Jeter led Hapoel with 26 points, hitting six of seven three-point attempts, while grabbing seven rebounds and passing four assists.
Far more surprising was Hunter's contribution. The American forward played a combined 33 minutes and scored just seven points in Jerusalem's first four group games.
However, on Tuesday, he scored 24 points in 31 minutes, hitting 10 of 11 from the field. Hunter also added six rebounds and five assists in what was by far his best game for Jerusalem.
Dijon Thompson added 14 points, nine rebounds and six steals for Hapoel, with Tre Simmons and Yuval Naimi scoring 10 points each.
"We were composed and knew we had to work hard to claim the win," Jeter said. "We took an important step forward tonight but there is still a long way to go in Europe."
Derrick Low scored 22 points for Siauliai, which lost any chance of finishing in the group's top two.
Siauliai got off to the better start and led 11-5 after a Mindaugas Kuzminskas dunk. However, Hunter would make his presence felt towards the end of the first period and his three-point move gave the visitors an 18-17 advantage after 10 minutes.
The hosts closed to within six points (44-38) at the start of the second half, but Jerusalem would go on a 16-3 run after that to open a comfortable gap once more.
Goodes's men still led 69-51 with 10 minutes to play and held a double-digit margin throughout the final quarter to claim its first European road victory of the season.
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