Telindus Oostende kept its hopes for a spot in the elimination rounds alive Tuesday with a 82-66 win over Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem. Oostende coach Sharon Drucker, who guided Jerusalem to the 2004 ULEB Cup crown, had his charges ready for Hapoel and they led from the opening minutes throughout the game. The results sees both teams join Alba Berlin, Khimki Moscow and Lukoil Academic Sofia in a five-way tie for second place in Group C, setting up a wild Week 10 finish. Both teams can advance to the elimination rounds next week with wins. Oostende can also qualify with a loss, provided that Berlin beats Jerusalem and Academic beats Khimki. The hosts used a 12-0 run sparked by Rashad Wright and Elvir Ovcina to pull away in the first quarter and give Oostende a 23-11 lead after 10 minutes. The hosts' top duo of the night boosted the lead to 17 in the second before Tapiro helped Jerusalem close to within 46-35 at halftime. Dror Hagag inspired Hapoel for a 0-14 run that got the hosts to 52-50 in the third period, but Ovcina and Wright were once more the answers for Oostende, which scored 8 straight points for a double-digit lead, which it nursed till the end. Wright finished with 26 points and 7 assists and Ovcina had 23 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists to lead Oostende, while Sam Van Rossom, making his first start of the season, added 12 and Eric Hicks 10 points and 10 rebounds. Meir Tapiro led Hapoel with 15, Hagag had 13 – all in the third quarter – and Mario Austin and Jurica Golemac 10 each. Austin also grabbed 11 rebounds.
Hapoel won the opening tip and took the early lead on a Timmy Bowers three-pointer. Moments later Van Rossom put Oostende on the board and he followed that with a triple as the ball began flying from side to side as if it were ping-pong. Wright and Hicks took advantage as Hapoel hurried and missed shots and the Belgian champs surged ahead. Ovcina added a pair of buckets and Wright capped a 12-0 run before Bowers scored inside to end a 6-minute scoring drought for the visitors. Newcomer Terrence Morris scored his first points for Jerusalem and captain Tapiro added two from the charity stripe, but Wright beat the buzzer to give Oostende a 23-11 lead after 10 minutes. Ovcina gave the hosts their biggest lead yet with a mid-range jumper to start the second period. Hapoel's leading scorer, Austin, finally got on the board, but Ovcina cam right back by setting up Wright for his 10th point and then drilling a long jumper for 10 points of his own. Austin brought Hapoel within 29-19 when he scored on the offensive glass, but Lavor Postell answered with a triple for Oostende. Reserve Guy Pnini made it 32-23 midway through the period, but spirited play by Hicks kept the hosts comfortably ahead. Baskets by Ovcina and Wright put Oostende up 17, while Hapoel continued to shoot – and miss – from downtown. Tapiro finally buried one from beyond the arc and after Ovcina scored inside, it was Tapiro again with a buzzer-beating bomb to keep Jerusalem within 46-35 at halftime.
Van Rossom scored the first points after a sloppy start to the second half and Postell followed with a long-range jumper to make it 50-35. Austin's free throw was Hapoel's first point of the half after nearly 3 minutes, but the bad news for Oostende was that Postell committed his fourth foul on the play. Jerusalem picked up the pace at that point, with Hagag leading the way. Hagag buried back-to-back threes and Tapiro had another as Hapoel reeled off 14 unanswered points to get within 52-50. However Oostende quickly regained its composure and got the fans involved when Ovcina set Hicks up for an alley-oop. AVan Rossom three put the hosts up 7, but the red-hot Hagag scored his 13th point of the period to keep the visitors close at 60-55 with one quarter remaining. Ovcina started the last period with his first three of the night and Wright followed suit. A fast-break tip-in by Wright put Oostende up 13. Bowers tried to get Hapoel going and Tapiro hit a jumper, but after a Wright jumper and a Postell three, it was 75-59 and Hapoel's chances were looking slim. Nothing the visitors tried in the final minutes paid dividends, as Oostende celebrated a big win with its fans.
Tuesday, January 9, 2007