Jerusalem can’t solve Gravelines at Malha

Hapoel’s hopes of reaching last 16 dealt blow by impressive Frenchmen in 91-75 loss.

Hapoel Jerusalem vs. Maccabi Tel Aviv 311 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Jerusalem vs. Maccabi Tel Aviv 311
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Jerusalem’s hopes of reaching the last 16 of the Eurocup were dealt a significant blow on Tuesday night after it was beaten 91-75 by an impressive BCM Gravelines team at Malha Arena.
Jerusalem trailed throughout the game but managed to close within two points early in the fourth period, only to get trampled over by the athletic Frenchmen in the final minutes.
Hapoel dropped to 1-2 in Group A with the defeat, and with a visit to Gravelines to come next week, the Reds will likely see their regular season fate decided in the home game against Donetsk, which beat Jerusalem by nine two weeks ago.
“We didn’t begin the game well enough and they are a very dangerous team,” Hapoel coach Oded Katash said of Gravelines, which leads the French league and has won its first three games in the Eurocup by an average 23.7 points. “We paid a price for battling our way back into the game and we couldn’t hold on in the end.
“This game was important for us, but they were the better team and deserved to win. We have plenty to learn from this game.”
D.J. Strawberry had 20 points for Jerusalem, with Brian Randle adding 15 and Jarvis Varnado contributing 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Rudy Jomby had 19 points for Gravelines, which converted on 14 of 28 three-point attempts.
The Frenchmen were on fire from the start, with Cyril Akpomedah’s triple opening an early 11-2 gap.
However, Jerusalem was desperate to build on the momentum of recent weeks and fought its way back into the game, with Luke Jackson’s three tying the score at 17-17 with two minutes remaining in the period.
Gravelines scored the next five points to take a small cushion into the second quarter, and Yannick Bokolo’s steal and layup opened a double-digit margin (31-21).
Andrew Albicy’s unbelievable basket from beyond halfcourt as the first half buzzer sounded ensured the visitors still had a double-figure gap (53-41) going into the second half. However, Hapoel ate away at the lead in the third quarter and must have liked its chances after Yuval Naimi brought it within two points (71-69) a minute into the fourth frame.
But Gravelines would score 20 of the next 24 points to clinch the win and leave Jerusalem with plenty to do to reach the next stage.