Hapoel taken to school in Zadar defeat

Hapoel taken to school i

hapoel jerusalem zadar (photo credit: Hapoel Jerusalem Web site)
hapoel jerusalem zadar
(photo credit: Hapoel Jerusalem Web site)
Despite being humbled 86-69 by KK Zadar on Tuesday night, Hapoel Jerusalem will return from Croatia knowing matters could have been far worse. A week after thrashing Zadar 93-74 at the Malha Arena, Jerusalem was blown away by the Croats in the second half of Tuesday's encounter and very nearly lost by more than the 19-point gap by which it triumphed last week. Only a late run ensured Jerusalem lost by "just" 17 points and claimed the tiebreaker over Zadar, which may prove to be crucial in determining the two teams which will advance to the last 16 from Group C. "Zadar deserves a lot of credit for playing superbly," Goodes said. "However, we allowed them to control the game. We shot poorly from the field and didn't play team basketball. We have a lot to learn from this game." Jerusalem faces BC Siauliai in Lithuania in its next group game on January 5 in an encounter it simply must win. Siauliai was walloped 85-67 by Aris Thessaloniki in Greece on Tuesday. Hapoel shot a terrible 20 of 57 from the field (35%) in Croatia, with the usually reliable shooter Tre Simmons the main culprit, hitting just one of his 12 shots. Yuval Naimi led Hapoel with 20 points, with Pooh Jeter Jerusalem's only other player in double-figures, scoring 16 points. "We didn't play well," said Hapoel forward Uri Kukia, who scored seven points. "The second quarter killed us. We weren't a factor on offense. At the end of the game we were battling to minimize the gap, but we don't feel good with the way we played." Vladimer Boisa led five Zadar players in double-figures, scoring 21 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. Micah Downs and Trent Plaisted added 16 and 14 points, respectively, for Zadar, which stormed back into the battle for a last 16 berth with the victory. Hapoel began Tuesday's game well, leading 13-6 after four minutes. A Jeter three-pointer ensured Hapoel still led at the end of the first period (19-17), but things would go downhill for Hapoel from there. Downs's three to start the second quarter put Zadar ahead and Hapoel would not lead again. The Croats increased the gap to eight points (38-30) by the break, and would go from strength to strength after that. Boisa's basket gave Zadar a double-digit margin (45-35) and after two more points by Downs the hosts took a 60-46 advantage into the final 10 minutes. At that stage, Hapoel's players understood that even though they may not be able to win the game they still need to make sure they don't lose by more than 19 points, the margin with which they beat Zadar at Malha last week. However, Zadar would begin the fourth quarter with a 10-0 run, capped by a Boisa three, to open a 70-46 gap. The Croats continued to dominate in the subsequent minutes and still led 79-58 with two minutes to play. However, Naimi and Uri Kukia came to Hapoel's rescue when all seemed lost, scoring clutch baskets which at least made sure the team did not fall by more than 19 points. Five straight points by Naimi closed the gap to 16 points in the final minute and Jerusalem remains ahead of Zadar in the standings.