Netanya, Haifa drop Last 16 openers

oth teams get off to losing start in EuroChallenge.

EuroChallenge 311 (photo credit: FIBA EUROPE Web site)
EuroChallenge 311
(photo credit: FIBA EUROPE Web site)
Barak Netanya and Maccabi Haifa both got their EuroChallenge Last 16 bids off to losing starts on Tuesday night.
Netanya was edged 73-70 by Tzvika Sherf’s Spartak St. BPetersburg in Russia, while Haifa suffered a fourth-quarter collapse on the way to a 95- 78 defeat to Lukoil Academic Sofia in Nesher.
Haifa will host Netanya in Group I next Tuesday, with both sides desperate for a victory to boost their chances of a top-two finish in the four-team group.
In Nesher, Haifa had the edge at the end of the first period (23-19) and opened a doubledigit margin by halftime, with Marco Killingsworth giving the hosts a 46-33 cushion.
Haifa led by as many as 16 points (55-39) in the third quarter, but the Bulgarians continued to fight and got right back in the game with a 22-8 surge (63-61).
A Damjan Stojanovski three-pointer to end the third frame brought Sofia within a single point (69-68) and Haifa would fall to pieces in the final 10 minutes.
Sofia outscored the hosts 21-1 in the first eight minutes of the frame, humbling a Haifa team which is used to being embarrassed after losing nine of its last 10 BSL games.
Killingsworth had 24 points for Haifa, which also got 17 points from Frank Robinson.
Bruno Sundov and Tencho Banev had 15 points each for the Bulgarians, who welcome St. Petersburg next week.
In Russia, the hosts took the early lead and were in front 18- 13 after 10 minutes.
Netanya remained in touch with Sherf’s men, with Romeo Travis’ basket to end the first half bringing the visitors within one possession at the break (33-30).
Netanya scored the first four points of the second half to move into the lead, but Spartak came right back and opened a promising nine-point gap (57- 48) with 10 minutes to play.
A basket by Petar Popovic to open the fourth extended St.
Petersburg’s margin to doubledigits, but Netanya fought back with an 8-0 run and never gave up chase.
Tony Washam’s three-pointer, followed by an Adrian Banks field goal with a minute to play, cut Spartak’s lead to three points (70-67), and another Washam triple brought the visitors within two.
However, Washam squandered a golden opportunity to tie the game from the line with six seconds to play, missing two free-throws, and the hosts held on for the win.
Washam led Netanya with 23 points, with Travis scoring 16 and Elton Brown adding 13.
Henry Domercant had 16 points for the Russians, who are one of the favorites to win the entire competition.