The team qualified despite losing 87-85 to Elitzur Ashkelon at Ussishkin Arena Monday night.
By ALLON SINAI
Hapoel Tel Aviv qualified for the State Cup quarterfinals despite losing 87-85 to Elitzur Ashkelon at Ussishkin Arena Monday night.
Hapoel won the first leg in Ashkelon 87-77 last month and never allowed the visitors to open up a significant lead that would threaten its advance to the next round.
The game's true significance may have been the return of Hapoel to Ussishkin.
Hapoel was set to leave the dilapidated Ussishkin for good after last season, but following a dispute with the management of Nokia Arena, which is also the home of fierce intra-city rival Maccabi Tel Aviv, the Reds decided to returned to their old court.
The game was close throughout the 40 minutes with neither team opening a considerable lead.
New American point guard Dan Cross started for Hapoel, but didn't even make it to halftime, leaving the game in the second quarter with a foot injury.
Ashkelon will console itself with the play of center Brandon Kurtz, who scored 28 points, and Brian Tolbert, who scored 26.
Hapoel was led by Jeron Roberts, who scored 19, and Rodger Farrington and Erez Katz, who scored 12 each.
Hapoel Jerusalemhosts Red Star Belgrade
Hapoel Jerusalem will wrap up the first half of its ULEB Cup regular season Tuesday night when it faces BC Red Star Belgrade at Malcha.
The 2004 ULEB Cup champions will be trying to bounce back from a big loss to Dynamo Moscow last week.
On the other hand, the Serbian club is on a three-game win streak after losing its season opener and at 3-1 is in second place in Group D.
Hapoel is 2-2 and tied for third with Le Mans. Dynamo Moscow is undefeated and leads the group.