Hapoel books spot in Eurocup quarterfinals

Jerusalem overwhelms Galatasaray with huge final frame to coast on the road 111-98.

hap jlem yuval naimi 311 (photo credit: BSL)
hap jlem yuval naimi 311
(photo credit: BSL)
A 44-point fourth quarter outburst gave Hapoel Jerusalem a 111-98 victory over Galatasaray in Turkey on Tuesday night, clinching the Israeli side’s place in the Eurocup quarterfinals.
Hapoel entered Tuesday’s encounter knowing a win would guarantee a berth in the last eight, with Galatasaray playing for no more than pride.
The game was played in a summer league atmosphere, with only several dozen fans in the Istanbul arena and both teams happy to settle for a free-scoring game while playing only token defense.
Galatasaray took a seven-point margin into the fourth period, but Jerusalem outscored the Turks 44-24 in the final 10 minutes and can look forward to at least two more games in continental competition.
Jerusalem will host Alba Berlin at the Malha Arena on March 24 before visiting the German capital for the decisive return leg a week later.
Berlin finished top of Group I with a 4-2 record thanks to its 68-62 victory over Joventut Badalona in Spain on Tuesday.
“We made sure we didn’t need favors from anybody,” said Hapoel coach Guy Goodes, who would have progressed even with a defeat in Turkey as Valencia beat Unics Kazan 91-81 in the other game in Group J on Tuesday.
Yuval Naimi led Jerusalem with 27 points and seven assists, hitting nine of 12 shots from two-point range and 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.
“Yuval began the game superbly and I could see from the start that he was focused,” Goodes said. “We have recorded an excellent achievement by simply reaching the last eight and we are hoping to continue to surprise in the next round.”
Tre Simmons scored 25 points, 13 of them in the fourth period. Dijon Thompson added 20 points for Hapoel, which hit 64 percent (37 of 58) of its shots from two-point range.
Mike Wilkinson led Galatasaray with 27 points, with Darius Washington adding 22 points.
It was clear from the start of the game that defending was not a priority for either team in the almost empty Abdi Ipekci arena. Jerusalem raced to an early 6-0 lead and two straight three-pointers by Simmons opened a 20-12 margin.
A Thompson triple soon after gave the visitors a double-digit gap (27-16) and a Naimi’s basket to end the first period ensured Hapoel was still comfortably ahead after 10 minutes (32-22).
The first six minutes of the second quarter continued to go according to plan for Hapoel, with Naimi’s three maintaining the double-figure cushion (45-35). However, for all its defensive failings, Galatasaray is a superb offensive side and it erased the deficit in no time.
Washington, Radoslav Rancik and Simas Jasaitis found their range and Rancik’s basket from beyond the arc capped a 14-2 run which gave the hosts a 49-47 lead.
Naimi, who scored 20 points in the first half to equal his Eurocupcareer best, made sure the score was all tied at the break (51-51), butJerusalem fell behind once again at the beginning of the second half.
Rancik’s three-point play established a 57-51 advantage, only forHapoel to tie the game almost immediately. However, the free-scoringstyle of game was playing into Galatasaray’s hands and two consecutivethrees by Jasaitis helped the Turks to a 73-65 lead with just underthree minutes remaining in the quarter.
Galatasaray took a seven-point margin (74-67) into the final 10minutes, but Hapoel closed to within one possession early on and aNaimi lay-up with six-and-a-half minutes remaining gave Jerusalem thelead once more (83-82).
Hapoel finally tightened its defense and continued to score at ease atthe other end, racing to a 20-2 run to clinch the win and a place inthe quarterfinals.