Double-win night for Israeli teams in Eurocup

Hapoel Jerusalem beats up on Bosnian side at Malha while Maccabi Haifa manhandles Skopje in Romema.

Hapoel Jerusalem's Josh Duncan at Malha Arena last night 370 (photo credit: Dror Kedmi / Hapoel Jerusalem Website)
Hapoel Jerusalem's Josh Duncan at Malha Arena last night 370
(photo credit: Dror Kedmi / Hapoel Jerusalem Website)
Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Haifa closed in on a place in the Eurocup Last 32 on Wednesday night, bouncing back from last week’s defeats to claim emphatic home wins.
Jerusalem had lost its past two Eurocup games, but improved to 4-3 in Group E on Wednesday, beating Igokea Aleksandrovac of Bosnia 85-71 at Malha Arena.
Hapoel strengthened its place in the top three, opening a two-game lead over fourth place with three more regular season games to play.
“We played well and it was important for us to keep moving forward,” said coach Brad Greenberg. “We’ve got to win one more game. We have two road games coming up and we need to finally win away from home.”
Haifa also has a two-game gap over fourth place in Group G after moving to 5-2 with a 79-60 victory over MZT Skopje at Romema Arena.
“You must always remain focused against teams like this,” said Haifa coach Danny Franco. “If we defeat Riga at home next week we will advance.”
Jerusalem never trailed on Wednesday, opening a double-digit margin (27- 16) by the end of the first quarter. The gap reached 21 points (39-18) following two Josh Duncan free throws, with Hapoel hitting 14 of 20 two-point attempts at that stage.
Jerusalem’s lead was at 15 points (48- 33) at the break, although the hosts allowed the Bosnians within nine points (53-44) midway through the third frame.
Still, Hapoel’s superiority was never really in doubt, and the Reds all but secured the victory with a 10-0 run.
Ronald Dupree led Jerusalem with 22 points, while Yotam Halperin had 14 points and Artsiom Parakhouski added 13 points and 12 rebounds for Hapoel, which registered 20 assists and won despite shooting just 2-of-16 from threepoint range.
Lior Eliyahu continued to sharpen his game, contributing 12 points, six assists and five rebounds in 24 minutes.
Branko Jorovic scored 15 points for Aleksandrovac.
“I didn’t expect to feel so comfortable so early on,” admitted a beaming Eliyahu, who will face his former team Maccabi Tel Aviv in BSL action on Monday.
“It will take me a little longer to get back to 100 percent.”
At Romema, a 9-0 run to end the first period gave Haifa a lead (21-18) it would never relinquish.
Skopje remained within striking distance at halftime (45-37), but Haifa put the game to bed with a 13-2 surge in the third period (62-45).
Ido Kozikaro and Ike Ofoegbu led five Haifa players in double figures with 14 points each, with Donta Smith adding 13 points, eight assists and six rebounds.
Justin Reynolds had 20 points and nine boards for Skopje.
“Despite my play tonight this is a very sad day for me due to Einstein’s passing,” said Kozikaro.
“Every win in this competition is important, especially at home. It may have looked easy but it wasn’t.”