Eurocup Basketball: Hapoel satisfied with 2-point loss in France

Eurocup Basketball Hapo

Hapoel Jerusalem will be confident of progressing to the regular season of the Eurocup after suffering a slender loss to Roanne in France in the first leg of the qualifying round on Tuesday. Jerusalem lost 83-81 to the French team and will advance to the group stage of the competition as long as it wins by more than two points in the second leg at Malha Arena next Wednesday. Hapoel led by as many as 17 points in the second period on Tuesday, but Roanne closed the gap by the break and the game was eventually decided by David Noel's buzzer-beating basket. "This is a good result because this is the first leg and is also our first official game of the season," Hapoel coach Guy Goodes said. "I'm pleased with the result and with the way we achieved it. We played very well in the first half, but I knew they would come back." Tre Simmons led Hapoel with 20 points and five assists. "We began the game well, but Roanne could not stop scoring," Simmons said. "Next week's return leg will be like a cup final." Kevin Pinkney and Yuval Naimi each added 15 points, with Dijon Thompson scoring 14 points. Noel led all scorers with 26 points, with Roanne scoring 15 of 37 from three-point range. After a tight first three minutes to the game, Hapoel took control and thanks to some excellent shooting led 34-19 after the first period. But Roanne edged its way back into the encounter as it progressed. Jerusalem took a slender lead (50-48) into the second half and a close third period ended in a 66-62 Roanne lead. The hosts remained in front for most of the fourth quarter, opening a seven-point gap midway through the period. However, Hapoel was never too far behind, and will not be too concerned with the loss ahead of the return leg.