Hap J’lem hopes to maintain momentum against Zagreb

Jerusalem stuns Maccabi 78-64 for first league win on road against the yellow-and- blue since October 1990.

Yuval Naimi 311 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Yuval Naimi 311
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
After ending a 21-year drought with a win over Maccabi Tel Aviv at Nokia Arena on Sunday, Hapoel Jerusalem hosts Cibona Zagreb in the Eurocup on Tuesday night in a game it cannot afford to lose.
Jerusalem stunned Maccabi 78-64 for its first league win on the road against the yellow-and- blue since October 1990, but it did not have long to celebrate the monumental victory.
Hapoel’s 80-71 defeat at BC Donetsk in its Eurocup opener means its situation in Group A is already complicated just one game into the regular season, making a home win against Cibona crucial to Jerusalem’s hopes of finishing in the top two and advancing to the last 16.
“We are excited about defeating Maccabi, but that wasn’t even our most important game of the week,” said D.J. Strawberry, who scored 10 points in the win in Tel Aviv.
“It feels great to win at Nokia after so long, but we need to make sure we are ready for the game against Cibona.”
Zagreb’s streak of 20 straight years in the Euroleague ended this season and its Eurocup campaign got off to a nightmare start when it was thrashed at home 101-71 by BCM Gravelines of France.
“We need to win our home games in Europe, starting on Tuesday,” Jerusalem coach Oded Katash said. “There is good reason to celebrate after the win against Tel Aviv, but I told the players to put the party on hold until we beat Cibona.”
In local league action on Monday, Ironi Ashkelon returned to the top of the BSL standings in dramatic fashion, beating Maccabi Rishon Lezion 81-79 thanks to Marco Killingsworth’s three-pointer with 1.4 seconds remaining.
Killingsworth hadn’t even attempted a shot from beyond the arc all season until that stage, but he hit the three when it counted to take Ashkelon to 5-1 on the season.
Killingsworth led his team with 25 points and seven rebounds, while Brandon Bowman and Joe Crawford scored 20 points each for Rishon, which fell to 2-3.
In other BSL news, Bnei Hasharon signed its third NBA player of the season on Monday, adding Golden State Warriors power forward Ekpe Udoh to its roster until the end of the NBA lockout.
Udoh replaces the homesick J.J. Hickson (Sacramento Kings), who returned to the US after just one game, with Hickson joining the team in place of Trevor Booker (Washington Wizards), who left after going down with an injury.