ULEB Cup: Hap J'lem's European season ends

Reds beaten by 20 points by Besiktas in Istanbul, wiping out 15-point first leg lead.

dan shamir 88 (photo credit: )
dan shamir 88
(photo credit: )
A horrendous second half killed off any hope Hapoel Jerusalem had of advancing in the ULEB Cup on Tuesday night. Jerusalem scored just 20 points in the final 20 minutes of its game against Besiktas JK and despite winning the first leg of the last 32 by 15 points (88-73) was knocked-out of the competition on Tuesday after losing the return leg in Turkey 73-53. Besiktas was anything but impressive in Istanbul, but Jerusalem had an off-day in Turkey and when that happens this season the team simply has no hope. Hapoel's defeat means it has lost all six of its road games in European competition and has done so by an embarrassing average of 21.2 points per game. "This was one of our worst games of the season," Hapoel coach Dan Shamir said on Tuesday. "We were in the game in the first half, but we couldn't execute in the second half because of our foul trouble. I'm disappointed we didn't manage to hold on to our first leg margin, but Besiktas played very well and deserved to win." Jerusalem had one of its poorest shooting nights of the season on Tuesday, hitting just 18 of its 51 shots from the field (35%) and 12 of 20 (60%) attempts from the free throw line. Only two Hapoel players scored in double-figures with Sharon Sasson getting 13 points and Dror Hagag adding 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals. Hagag was the only ray of light in an otherwise pitch dark night for Jerusalem, but foul trouble limited his time on court and with the way his teammates played the State Cup holder had no chance. Jamie Arnold, who fouled out, scored just eight points and grabbed five rebounds, with Timmy Bowers, Ramel Curry and Guy Pnini combining for an embarrassing five points. Rick Apodaca led the hosts with 15 points and five rebounds, with Sandro Nicevic (13 points, 10 rebounds) and Kaya Peker (13 points, 6 rebounds) also playing key roles in their team's victory. An early 5-0 run gave Hapoel its first lead of the night (7-5), but the hosts answered back with eight straight points and Peker's hook shot opened a six point margin (13-7). Jerusalem, however, had no intention of losing touch with Besiktas so early on and four straight points by Noel Felix tied the score at 16-16 after 10 minutes. Felix hit a turnaround jumper that even he didn't know he was capable of scoring at the start of the second quarter, but all in all Jerusalem struggled on the offensive end and the hosts went ahead 29-23 thanks to Nicevic's easy lay-up. Unsurprisingly, Hagag was on hand to help Hapoel in its moment of need and his five consecutive points brought his side back within two points (30-28). The Turks, however, quickly seized control of the game once more and a 7-0 run gave Besiktas its biggest lead of the first half (37-28). Jerusalem seemed to be losing control of the tie, but a Yehu Orland three-pointer and a Bowers lay-up after a Hagag steal cut the deficit to just four points at the break (37-33). Two free throws by Preston Shumpert increased the Turks gap to eight points (41-33) and Hapoel was in dire straits after Hagag picked up his fourth foul. Bowers replaced Hagag in the playmaker position and the visitors somehow managed to keep Besiktas within touching distance. A Sasson three cut the gap to three points (43-38), but the hosts finished the third period strongly and Christian Dalmau's triple opened a 54-45 lead with 10 minutes to play. Jerusalem failed to make any kind of inroads into the hosts lead at the start of the fourth quarter and Apodaca's free throws with two-and-a-half minutes to play gave Besiktas a 66-51 advantage and tied the score overall. Hapoel was completely helpless on offense in the final minutes and its inability to score would end up costing it the tie. Besiktas continued to pile-up the points as the game drew to a close and claimed a deserved victory.