B'ball: Hap J'lem visits Turkey aiming for Eurocup quarters

Win against Galatasaray would give team much-needed confidence boost after recent struggles.

Hapoel Jlem basketball 311 (photo credit: Roi Levy )
Hapoel Jlem basketball 311
(photo credit: Roi Levy )
Hapoel Jerusalem enters Tuesday’s Eurocup encounter at Galatasaray needing a win for more reasons than one.
A victory would not only secure Hapoel’s place in the quarterfinals of the competition, but also give the team a much-needed confidence boost after its struggles in recent weeks.
Jerusalem may well even reach the last eight with a loss in Turkey, as a Valencia victory over Unics Kazan in the other Group J game of the night would ensure Hapoel finishes second in the group regardless of the outcome of its game.
However, Hapoel will still be anxious to win on Tuesday. Since the 100-87 victory over Galatasaray at the Malha Arena just over a month ago, Jerusalem has been desperately erratic, rarely playing at its best.
Hapoel has lost two of four BSL games, while falling in two of three Eurocup encounters, including last week’s 69-64 home defeat to Valencia.
“We are entering the game with a single goal – to claim a win,” Jerusalem coach Guy Goodes said. “We have prepared well for the game and we are focusing on progressing to the quarterfinals. We depend on ourselves and we’re not thinking of the game in Spain. We worked hard to ensure our fate would be in our hands and we don’t want to depend on favors from other teams.”
Galatasaray has only got pride to play for on Tuesday after losing all five of its group games to date. However, the Turks enter the game with plenty of confidence after beating Euroleague side Efes Pilsen 89-76 in league play on Sunday.
Galatasary is completely dependent on four players. Darius Washington (21.6. ppg), Rado Rancik (18.9 ppg), Mike Wilkinson (16.6 ppg) and former Maccabi Tel Aviv small forward Simas Jasaitis (16.1 ppg) carry the team’s offense, scoring 85 percent of the side’s points.
“Galatasaray is a good team which lost most of its games by slender margins,” said Goodes of the Turkish side, which in four of its five group defeats fell by six points or less. “We have struggled to play well consistently and we hope to change that, starting on Tuesday.”
Jerusalem could even finish first in the group if it wins inIstanbul and Kazan beats Valencia by a margin between four and sevenpoints.
However, playmaker Yuval Naimi, who scored just sixpoints while committing four turnovers in the loss to Valencia, wouldbe more than happy to settle for second place in the group.
“Wehave been able to comeback from difficult situations in the past and Ibelieve that we will achieve our goal in Turkey,” Naimi said. “We wantto repeat our Eurocup triumph from 2004, but first we must win inTurkey.”