Euro Hoops: Israeli teams come good in Europe

Hapoel Jerusalem rallies to win in Amsterdam; Bnei Hasharon defeats Panellinios.

HAPOEL JERUSALEM sneed 248.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
It was a great night for Israeli teams in Europe on Tuesday as Hapoel Jerusalem kick started its EuroChallenge campaign, defeating MyGuide Amsterdam 74-73 in Holland in dramatic fashion. Meanwhile in Ra'anana, Bnei Hasharon kept alive its slim hope of progressing in the Eurocup, defeating Greek side Panellinios BC 78-76. After losing twice at home in its first three games of the competition, Hapoel could simply not afford to lose again on Tuesday. Amsterdam, which defeated Hapoel 83-81 at Malha Arena, led throughout most of the encounter and took an 11-point margin into the final 10 minutes of the game. Jerusalem, however, would outscore the hosts 26-14 in the fourth period, turning the game on its head and clinching the victory thanks to clutch free throw shooting by Timmy Bowers in the final minute. Omar Sneed scored 27 points and took seven rebounds, with Bowers adding 23 points for Hapoel, which hosts Olympia Larissa at Malha after the winter break on January 7. Teddy Gipson scored 22 points for Amsterdam, with Avis Wyatt and Orien Greene adding 13 and 12 points respectively. Hapoel got off to the start it had hoped for and opened a 17-10 lead with three minutes to play in the first period. Former Hapoel player Greene gave Amsterdam its first lead of the night (29-26) with a three-pointer and the hosts remained in front for the rest of the half, leading 39-34 at the interval. A Moran Rot three to start the second half brought the visitors within two points, but Arik Shibek's team maintained its control over the encounter and opened a double-digit margin after a Victor Thomas dunk (52-42). Despite trailing Amsterdam by 11 points (59-48) heading into the final 10 minutes of the game, Hapoel never lost hope and closed to within a single point after beginning the fourth quarter with a 10-0 run. Hapoel completed its comeback with 3:22 to play after a Bowers basket gave it a 65-64 lead, but the game was far from won. The encounter would come down to free-throw shooting and Bowers hit four of four from the free-throw line in the final 35 seconds, giving Hapoel a nerve wrecking victory. Bnei Hasharon lost its first three games of the Eurocup, and, despite Tuesday's victory, still needs to win its two remaining games in the competition and for other results in Group D to go its way if it's to advance. Meir Tapiro scored 21 points, took five rebounds and passed four assists for the hosts, which had less than 48 hours to recover from its stunning home victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv. Cookie Belcher added 15 points and five steals, with Richard Roby scoring 12 points and Ousmane Cisse contributing 10 points and 11 rebounds. Ivan Radenovic scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds for Panellinios, which defeated Bnei Hasharon 85-70 in Greece last week. An Ori Itzhaki basket to end a tight first period gave Bnei Hasharon a 22-16 lead and a Roby three-pointer in the second quarter opened a double-digit margin (34-24). Panellinios led by as many as six points (54-48) towards the end of the third quarter thanks to a 9-0 run, but Bnei Hasharon came right back and the score was tied at 56-56 with 10 minutes to play. The hosts were the more composed in the final period and after opening a 70-61 gap with an 8-0 run, kept their nerve from the free throw line and held on for the victory.