EuroCup Hoops: Late rally falls short as Hap Jerusalem goes down in Greece

EuroCup Hoops Late rall

Hapoel Jerusalem suffered an 81-77 defeat at Aris Thessaloniki on Tuesday night, falling to 1-1 in the Eurocup group stage. Despite trailing by as many as 18 points midway through the third quarter, Hapoel tied the game in the final minute and came tantalizingly close to claiming a significant road victory. Nevertheless, Jerusalem coach Guy Goodes will be pleased with his players' effort, knowing that the close loss gives it a good chance to claim the tiebreaker over Aris when it hosts the Greeks in its final match of the group stage at Malha Arena on January 12. Goodes enjoyed an excellent night by his guards. Pooh Jeter scored 19 points, with Yuval Naimi adding 18 points, hitting seven of 11 shots. Tre Simmons had 17 points for Hapoel, which hosts KK Zadar next week. Zadar defeated BC Siauliai 95-91 on the road on Tuesday. The top two teams from the group will advance to the last 16. Juan Dixon scored 20 points and added five rebounds and five assists for Aris, with Andy Betts contributing 13 points. Aris scored the first points of the night, but Hapoel was never too far behind and Jeter tied the score at 17-17 with just over two minutes to play in the quarter. The hosts took a 25-22 lead into the second period after Jeremy Richardson capped the first quarter with a jumper, but a Jeter basket brought the score level once more (28-28). However, things would take a turn for the worse for Jerusalem after that, with Hapoel failing to score for more than five minutes. Jerusalem struggled against Thessaloniki's strong defense and paid the price for its offensive inability. Aris may have been excellent on the defensive end, but like Hapoel it was also unconvincing on the offensive side. It did, however, increase the lead towards the end of the first half, and thanks to accurate free-throw shooting went on a 15-0 run to open a 43-28 lead. Hapoel finally regained its scoring touch in the final two minutes of the half, but that did little to minimize the damage and Guy Goodes' men trailed 48-35 at the break. Despite seeing Aris increase its gap to almost 20 points in the third quarter, the visitors continued to fight and entered the final frame down 64-53. The visitors continued to eat away at the gap as the period progressed and Naimi tied the score with a three point move with just under two minutes to play. The scored was still even (77-77) after another Naimi basket with 37 seconds remaining, but Hapoel could not complete the comeback an Aris clinched the win thanks to Juan Dixon's jumper and Aaron Miles's free-throw shooting.