Hapoel strolled with a 62-73 road win at Ventspils
Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem strolled into the ULEB Cup quarterfinals with a 62-73 road win at BK Ventspils in Latvia. Jerusalem swept the two-game series after winning 88-73 in Israel two weeks ago. The 2004 ULEB Cup champs will next face FMP Zeleznik. After Ventspils took an early lead, Jerusalem bridged together a 20-point run over the first two quarters to take a commanding double-figure lead. That, combined with the 15-point advantage Jerusalem came into the game with from the first leg, allowed the visitors to coast the rest of the way. Ventspils cut the gap to 7 in the closing minutes, but the outcome was long decided by them. Timmy Bowers was the star for Hapoel, scoring 16 of his 18 points in the first half to help his team to a 28-45 halftime lead. Bowers added 10 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 blocks. Mario Austin scored a game-high 22 and Hapoel captain Meir Tapiro recorded 12 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists. Dusan Jelic, who missed the first game through illness, was a factor early on for the hosts, but petered out later on. Jelic led Ventspils with 15 points and 10 rebounds and Dalron Johnson added 10 points and 9 boards.
Jelic won the opening tip and then went inside for the game's first points. Tapiro answered back for Jerusalem on the very next possession. Jelic continued to be the main factor, as he scored inside, set Uvis Helmanis up for a jumper and then drilled a three to give the hosts a quick 9-4 lead. A pair of baskets by Bowers kept Hapoel in the picture and an improved defensive effort prevented Ventspils from pulling away again. Bowers soon tied the game and Erez Marckovich's hook shot gave the visitors their first lead, 15-17. A pair of Ed Cota free throws and a Bowers tip-in capped a run of 12 unanswered points to put Jerusalem in control, 10-22, after 10 minutes. Hapoel continued to stifle the Ventspils attack, keeping the Latvian champs scoreless for more than 4 minutes into the second period. During that time, Bowers added a basket and Dror Hagag came off the bench for 4 to cap a 0-20 run and give Jerusalem a 15-30 lead. Eddie Shannon finally ended the hosts' drought and then he teamed with Jelic for a few more buckets to close the gap to 23-34, but Austin answered with a three to keep Hapoel comfortably ahead. Bowers continued to snipe and his fade-away jumper at the halftime buzzer gave the visitors their biggest lead, 28-45 at the break.
Raimonds Vaikulis made a pair of jumpers for his first points of the game early in the second half, but Jurica Golemac answered with a three-pointer and Austin added a basket to give Hapoel a 20-point lead. Austin scored and then Tapiro completed a 0-9 run to make it 32-56, which gave the visitors a 39-point aggregate lead, essentially sealing the outcome with another 15 minutes to play. Aigars Vitols made it 40-60 at the end of the third quarter and the hosts made a valiant effort at the start of the fourth, as Akselis Vairogs hit a jumper, Vitols made two more and then Vairogs added a triple, finishing an 11-0 run, but it was too little, too late. Austin converted a basket plus foul, leaving the hosts with a 48-63 deficit to overcome in just 6 minutes. The hosts continued to chip away, cutting the gap to 7, but Hapoel coach Dan Shamir called a timeout to shake up his players, the lead quickly returned to double figures and Jerusalem coasted the rest of the way.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007