Dynamo edges Hapoel in first leg

Russian power overcomes Hapoel as Jerusalem side are beaten by one in thrilling ULEB Cup semifinal game.

Hapoel Jerusalem 298.88 (photo credit: Blake-Ezra Cole)
Hapoel Jerusalem 298.88
(photo credit: Blake-Ezra Cole)
Dmitry Domani made one free-throw with 2.4 seconds remaining to lift Dynamo Moscow over Hapoel Jerusalem 84-83 in the first leg of their ULEB Cup semifinal tie on Tuesday at Malha. The return leg is next Tuesday in the Russian capital. Hapoel certainly has reasons to be optimistic ahead of next week's game, but Dynamo will be the clear favorite, as it has not lost a ULEB Cup game at home all season. The aggregate winner of the two-game tie will advance to the final in Charleroi, Belgium on April 11. In a game that visiting coach Dusko Ivkovic described as being "at the highest European level," both teams enjoyed hot and cold spells and never stopped impressing the sellout crowd. The trio of center Lazaros Papadopoulus, forward Antonios Fotsis and point guard Mire Chatman carried Moscow. Papadopoulus scored 10 of his game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter. Displaying a fine hook shot, the Greek giant made 8-of-10 from the field, grabbed eight rebounds and drew 10 fouls, which was a problem for the Hapoel big men. Chatman, who went headto-head with Horace Jenkins for much of the night, finished with 23 points and eight rebounds and Fotsis, whose three-pointer and two slams in the fourth were key for Moscow, added 21. Jenkins led Hapoel with 24, Mario Austin was dominant inside with 21 points and 17 rebounds and Roger Mason Jr. added 19. Despite the difficult task that now awaits the reds, coach Erez Edelstein has high hopes for the trip to Russia. "The time has come for Dynamo to lose at home," he matter-offactly stated in the post-game press conference. "I prefer to lose by one than to win by one, because we must win in Moscow anyway," he added. "I feel like we won." One thing that Edelstein should not count on in Russia is a repeat of swingman Ruben Douglas's offensive struggles. The American missed all 11 of his field goals and finished with just four points. Ivkovic was pleased with his team's victory, but added, "We haven't finished anything yet." He complimented the play of his big men but saw room for improvement. "We can't be satisfied with our rebounding. Hapoel's 16 offensive rebounds were too many." The hosts led 57-50 with less than three minutes to go in the third quarter when Austin was whistled for his fourth foul. Edelstein took Austin and Mason out for the end of the period and was punished by Papadopoulus and Chatman, who pieced together a 9-0 run to give Dynamo the lead heading into the fourth. Then Fotsis and Papadopoulus took care of business, combining for 18 fourthquarter points. Following a monster two-hand jam and a Jerusalem timeout, Fotsis stole the ball and coasted for a another slam to put Moscow up 75-68 midway through the period. Jenkins answered for Hapoel, scoring his team's next eight points to keep the Jerusalem hopes alive for another week. In the other semifinal firstleg game, Hemofarm Vrsac of Serbia & Montenegro defeated Aris Thessaloniki 74-71. There was plenty of pregame drama at Malha, after Internet reports surfaced that team president and sponsor Arkadi Gaydamak issued an ultimatum to chairman Danny Klein that he allow Gaydamak to purchase the team or he would not fund the team next season. However Gaydamak, who sat courtside, said after the game that there was a misunderstanding and that he planned to remain with the team because of "my responsibility to the city and the fans."