ULEB Cup: Hap J'lem hopes Malha will give them a lift

A day after losing to last placed Ironi Ramat Gan, Jerusalem learns that its star player will need knee surgery.

Hapoel Jerusalem 248.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger [file])
Hapoel Jerusalem 248.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger [file])
Just when it seemed as though its season had hit rock bottom, matters got a whole lot worse for Hapoel Jerusalem on Monday. A day after losing in the BSL to last placed Ironi Ramat Gan, Jerusalem learnt that its star player, the one man who has performed consistently this season, will need knee surgery. Jamie Arnold has carried the team since the start of the season, but has been troubled in recent weeks with a slight tear in his Meniscus. The American played just 11 minutes in Hapoel's loss to Ramat Gan, after coach Dan Shamir decided to rest him ahead of Tuesday's important ULEB Cup game against Den Bosch. Arnold, however, didn't train with the team on Monday night and will not to be fit for Tuesday's game. "Arnold is injured and the implications on our roster are obvious," Shamir said on Monday. "We will have to make the most of our talent and character to record a good result tomorrow. We now only have one big man, Ido Kozikaro, and we'll need to change our style of play so that the team can play well." Jerusalem will be looking to maintain its perfect home record on Tuesday. Hapoel (3-3) is 8-0 at the Malha Arena in all competitions this season, and with five teams at either 3-3 or 2-4 in its ULEB Cup group, a home win against Den Bosch (2-4) is an absolute must. The Dutch champion has lost three straight games in European play and is also in desperate need of a road win to resurrect its continental campaign. Darrel Tucker, who leads the team with 14.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds in Den Bosch's 101-94 victory over Jerusalem earlier this season. Jerusalem will undoubtedly keep an extra eye on Travis Young (12.6 ppg), who was unstoppable when the teams first met in the Netherlands, scoring 29 points. Den Bosch rarely gives its opponents free points, with only two of the ULEB Cup's 54 teams turning the ball over fewer times than the Dutchmen. "Our problem is that we're too soft. We must play more aggressively and be more determined to claim the win," Miki Berkowitz's son, Roei, who plays for Den Bosch, said on Monday. "Hapoel Jerusalem is an excellent team, especially at Malha. Its loss to Ramat Gan means nothing." With the absence of Arnold, Timmy Bowers (16.2 ppg) and Sharon Sason (12.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg) will have to be at their very best on Tuesday for Hapoel to claim the win. Shamir will also be hoping that the disappointing Ramel Curry (8.5 ppg) and Anthony Roberson (4 ppg) finally contribute in the way expected from foreign imports. Also Tuesday, Hapoel Galil Elyon will have to beat Russian side Triumph Lyubertsy at Kfar Blum to have any chance of advancing in the ULEB Cup. Galil is in last position in Group E and fell to 1-5 after losing to Swans Gmunden last week. Lyubertsy (5-1) has cruised through the competition so far, winning its games by an average 17.2 points and suffering its only loss to Benetton Fribourg after a buzzer-beating basket. Stanislav Eremin's side, which defeated Galil 84-68 when the teams met earlier this season, has one of the best defenses in the competition, holding its opponents to a measly 66.2 ppg. The Russians' strong and balanced roster is led by Terrell Lyday (14.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg), Ognjen Askrabic (12.7 ppg, 7 rpg, 4 apg) and Mire Chatman (12 ppg 3.8 app, 3.5 rpg). Galil coach Eli Kaneti will be expecting solid contributions from Clif Brown (16.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg), Jai Lewis (15.5 ppg, 9 rpg), Gil Mosinzon (13.8 ppg), Doron Sheffer ( 12.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg) and Mike Campbell (12.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg), but even if his players perform to the best of their abilities it may not be enough to overcome Lyubertsy.0