Hap J’lem, Mac Haifa pull off road conquests

Hapoel Jerusalem improved to 2-0 in the Eurocup regular season on Wednesday night.

Donta Smith Maccabi Haifa 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Donta Smith Maccabi Haifa 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Hapoel Jerusalem improved to 2-0 in the Eurocup regular season on Wednesday night, while Maccabi Haifa finally claimed its first win of 2013/14.
Jerusalem dropped to 0-2 in the BSL with Sunday’s 74-63 loss at Bnei Herzliya, but it can at least draw some encouragement from its play in continental competition after recording its second straight Eurocup win on Wednesday, claiming a 74-67 victory at Bosnian champion Igokea Aleksandrovac.
Despite promising performances against Unics Kazan in its Eurocup opener last week and versus Maccabi Tel Aviv in its first BSL game on Monday, Haifa entered Wednesday still searching for its first victory of the campaign.
It trailed for most of the game against MZT Skopje of Macedonia, but found its range when it mattered most to claim an 86-83 win.
“I’m really proud of my players who mounted a wonderful comeback in a very tough arena,” said Haifa coach Danny Franco.
“They showed a lot of character following the defeat against Maccabi and now we want to record our first BSL win against Ashdod on Sunday.”
Hapoel led by double digits (26-16) in the second quarter in Bosnia, but was ahead by just three points (34-31) at the break and trailed by six points (55-49) with 10 minutes to play.
However, the contest would only be decided in the final minute, with Jerusalem ending the night with a 7-0 run in the final 37 seconds to pick up some much needed confidence following its deflating displays in local action.
Derwin Kitchen led Hapoel with 17 points, while Ronald Dupree and Yotam Halperin had 13 points each.
Ramon Galloway scored 13 points for the hosts.
Earlier Wednesday, Haifa eked out a sweet win in Macedonia thanks to a late run. After frustrating defeats to Kazan and Maccabi, Haifa was desperate to finally get of the mark.
Despite not looking as sharp as it did in its first two games of the season, Haifa erased a nine-point deficit in the fourth frame, with Ike Ofoegbu and Moran Roth leading the team to the comeback.
The Greens trailed throughout almost all of Wednesday’s encounter before seizing the initiative in the fourth frame and clinching the win after Ofoegbu hit all six of his free throws late in the game.
Ofoegbu had 18 points and 14 rebounds for Haifa, with Donta Smith netting 15 and Roth adding 13 points. “We believe in our team,” said Ofoegbu, who has gotten life as a Haifa player off to an impressive start.
“Even though we trailed at the break we knew we had a chance to win. It was a team effort and we were very strong mentally in the final minutes.”