For the first time in its history BC Donetsk secured its spot in the Last 16 of the Eurocup with a 68-74 road win over Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem in Group A action at Goldberg Arena in the Israeli capital on Tuesday night. Donetsk improved to 4-1 and will join BCM Gravelines as the two qualifying teams from the group, while Hapoel fell to 1-4 and for the second season in a row finish the Eurocup campaign in the regular season. Hapoel needed to delete a 9-point loss from Week 1, but at no point during the game reached the desired gap. The locals held a 64-60 lead with 5:51 to go, but until the very last seconds saw Donetsk go on a 2-12 run to get the sweet win. Former Hapoel player Ramel Curry had 19 points for the winners, Vule Avdalovic added 12 and Ivan Radenovic collected 11 with 10 rebounds. Dan Grunfeld led Hapoel with 17 points and 8 rebounds, D.J. Strawberry scored 15, Brian Randle finished with 11 and 7 rebounds and Jarvis Varnado had 8 points and 7 blocks.
Strawberry collected 5 early points to create a 10-5 lead, but Curry, who knows the rims in Jerusalem very well, answered from three-point line and soon Donetsk tied the score at 10-10 after five minutes. Randle with 4 points in a row pushed Hapoel to 16-10 as the game got more and more physical on both ends. Grunfeld helped push the gap to 8 before Avdalovic hit a crazy three that made it 22-17 after one quarter. The guests collected points around the rim, but saw Grunfeld hit twice a catch-and-shoot from the perimeter to keep the hosts on top 27-26. A three pointer by Maksym Pustozvonov gave Donetsk its first lead in the game. An active Michael Lee on defense and another three by Pustozvonov capped a 0-11 run that put the visitors up 27-34, but Randle scored twice in a row and kept Hapoel not too far behind. Uri Kukia and Strawberry cut it back to just 33-35 but Pustozvonov stepped on the three-point line and hit a long-range shot that made it a 6-point game right before the half, as the teams marched to the break with the score board showing 36-42.
Avdalovic scored from long distance and dished an assist for an Ivan Radenovic triple that registered a 40-48 game, but Hapoel woke up in time. Strawberry with a three and Grunfeld from mid-range answered with a 9-2 run, while Radenovic, Curry and Jackson all picked up third fouls midway through the third quarter. Several minutes of scoring drought on both sides ended when Grunfeld put Hapoel finally on top 52-50, but Viacheslav Kravtsov with a great job on both ends of the floor helped Donetsk to take the lead back, 52-55. Grunfeld with a great finish set the third quarter score on 58-57. Hapoel scored the first 4 points of the fourth quarter, but saw Randle pick up his fourth foul still with more than seven minutes to play. Varnado blocked shot after shot under the rim and with a three-point play on the other end glued the fourth foul on Jackson and increased the gap to 64-60 with 5:51 to play, yet that was the stopping line for Hapoel. Donetsk scored 5 points in a row and entered the last three minutes with a 64-65 lead. Strawberry's fast break dunk was Hapoel's last points before the closing seconds, after the game was decided, while the guests collected points to advance to the next phase.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011