Hapoel Jerusalem edges AEK to stay alive
Faced with a must-win game on home floor, Hapoel Jerusalem edged the visiting AEK Athens 82-78 to keep alive its chance to progress to the Last 32. Both teams now hold a 4-4 record in the fourth place in Group F, with Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul, Nizhny Novgorod and Neptunas Klaipeda all already qualified. With this win, Jerusalem also overcame 75-74 loss to AEK in Round 4 and has a tie-break advantage, however, neither team holds the keys of its own destiny. To qualify, in Round 10 Jerusalem needs to win and needs Nizhny to win, too. AEK to qualify needs to win in Round 10 and hope either Nizhny or Jerusalem will lose. Lior Eliyahu paced the winners with 22 points and 8 points. Earl Rowland added 17 points and 7 assists. Matt Janning netted 16, and Donta Smith collected 14 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals in victory. Loukas Mavrokefalidis had 16 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists for the visitors. Giannis Kalampokis and Dimitrios Mavroeidis scored 15 apiece, and Malik Hairston had 10 in defeat.
Eliyahu scored six points and Janning hit a three for Jerusalem to grab 9-7. Frontcourt of Mavrokefalidis, Mavroeidis and Dimitrios Katsivelis scored the first 15 points for AEK, but it was a triple from Smith and two more baskets from Eliyahu that allows the hosts to stay in front, 16-15. However, Yotam Halperin had a basket to start and a fastbreak triple to end a 9-1 run, and Halperin scored twice more in the final 45 seconds of the first quarter to help make it 31-20 after 10 minutes. In the second, Hairston got AEK going with six points and a steal that led to a Kalampokis fastbreak basket, 35-30. Hairston and Kalampokis scored more, but Janning hit back-to-back threes for the hosts and help them hold 43-37 at halftime.
Smith and Eliyahu opened 48-37 margin early in the third, but Mavroeidis, Kalampokis and a Mavrokefalidis needed only three minutes cut the deficit back to 50-46. Janning scored 7 of the next 9 points for the hosts, including a three-pointer, and restored 59-48, but Milan Milosevic ended the run with a three-pointer for AEK, and Mavrokefalidis made it 61-55 after 30 minutes. Rowland scored two quick baskets to start the fourth, restoring a double-digit margin, but downtown shots from Mavrokefalidis and Milosevic cut it to 67-63. Eliyahu scored twice for Jerusalem, and Rowland’s triple made it 74-67. But AEK was not going away, as Kalampokis hit a three that got the visitors within 74-72. As the game was going down to the wire, Smith and Katsivelis traded baskets, before Josh Duncan and Mavrokefalidis each made a pair of free throws, 78-76. Eliyahu put Jerusalem up by 4 with a minute to go, but Mavrokefalidis replied on the other end. On the following two possessions Rowland and Kalampokis traded turnovers, with the latter leading to a Smith’s fastbreak basket that sealed it, 82-78. AEK had the final possession, hoping to even things out in case of a tie-breaker, but Jerusalem held on for a 4-point victory.
Wednesday, December 9, 2015