ULEB Cup: Hap Jerusalem looks for an early boost

Hapoel will look to kickstart its season on Tuesday night when it hosts SIG Strasbourg in its ULEB Cup opener at Malha Arena.

hapoel jerusalem 298.88 (photo credit: www.hapoel.co.il)
hapoel jerusalem 298.88
(photo credit: www.hapoel.co.il)
Hapoel Jerusalem will look to kickstart its season on Tuesday night when it hosts SIG Strasbourg in its ULEB Cup opener at Malha Arena. The team suffered a disappointing 15-point defeat to Bnei Hasharon in the BSL on Sunday and also struggled in its first game of the season last week, only beating Hapoel Afula/Gilboa thanks to a late run. New American signings Ramel Curry, Will Blalock and Marcus Slaughter, who only joined the team last week, haven't adapted to their new surroundings yet and the team, which has reached the last eight of the ULEB Cup in three of the last four seasons, has still got plenty of work to do before it jells and plays to its potential. "We must prepare for the game in the little time we have and above all win this encounter," Jerusalem coach Dan Shamir said on Tuesday. "I don't know how the game will unfold, but we must find a way to win it. "We looked lost for many minutes during the game against Bnei Hasharon and we must change that. We're playing in front of our own supporters and I hope that will help us solve our problems." Jamie Arnold will make his first ULEB Cup appearance for Jerusalem on Tuesday after many Euroleague games with Maccabi Tel Aviv. "We watched Strasburg train and could see that it's an aggressive team that plays hard. It's not easy to rebound from a poor game, but that will spur us on." Strasbourg, which reached the ULEB quarterfinals last year, has also been disappointing in local league play, winning just one of its six games to date. The team has six Americans on a roster that also includes Israeli Afik Nisim. The guard, who has being playing his basketball abroad since 2005, averaged 11.1 points per game at Strasbourg last season and is a key member of the French team. "I'm very excited to be playing in Israel, especially in front of the fans at Malha," Nisim said. "We've begun the season poorly and the Jerusalem game has come in a bad time for us. Hapoel is the favorite, but we will do our best and hopefully things will be alright." Also on Tuesday, Hapoel Galil Elyon hosts three-time reigning Austrian champion Swans Gmunden in what will be both club's ULEB Cup debut. European competition will come as a welcome distraction for Galil, which has lost its first two BSL games by 22 and 23 points respectively. Hapoel has looked out of sorts in the first two weeks of the season, but will be hoping to finally notch-up its first victory of the 2007/08 campaign against an inferior Austrian team on Tuesday. Gmunden, which is coached by Israeli Bob Gonnen, is currently only fifth in the Austrian league, losing three of its first eight games. "Any game can help us break out of this difficult time and change the momentum," Galil guard Doron Sheffer said. "We don't know much about our opponent, but the most important thing at the moment is our play."