Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem took a big step towards the next round in the ULEB Cup after beating Besiktas ColaTurka 88-73 in the first leg of the Last 32 on Tuesday in the Israeli capital. The loss was Besiktas’s first of the season after becoming the first team in competition history to go through the regular season undefeated. Hapoel used a second-quarter run to take a double-digit lead at halftime, and saw a stunning third quarter show by Guy Pniny in which he nailed 4 three-pointers to give the Reds a 22-point lead. Besiktas came back to minus-10 in the closing quarter, but will have to win by at least 16 point next week in Istanbul to survive. Jaime Arnold had another big day in the office with 28 points and 11 rebounds, Pniny finished with 20 points, Ramel Curry missed just a single field goal shot and reached 12 points, Dror Hagag added 12 points of his own with a game-high 8 assists. Rick Apodaca scored 15 points in the second half to reach 23 for the game, while Preston Shumpert added 18. Besiktas suffered from a bad night of its inside players – Kaya Peker, Sandro Nicevic and Predrag Drobnjak – who combined for only 14 points as Jerusalem outrebounded Besiktas 39-22.
Hapoel saw a very active start by Pniny, on both ends of the floor. He drew a foul, stole the ball and put Hapoel on top 4-0 before Besiktas took its first lead behind the first baskets of Shumpert and Apodaca who made it 6-7 after three minutes. But then both teams seemed to lose their focus and turned the ball over time after time. Pniny added 5 more points, but saw Christian Dalmau warm up with 4 points in a row as the teams finished the first 10 minutes tied at 13-13. Nicevic scored 4 in a row for Besiktas early in the second, but Curry started Hapoel's 10-0 run, which was capped by a Sharon Shason three-pointer. Nicevic broke the drought from the line, but soon picked up his third foul, while Arnold pushed Hapoel and with a three-point play that made it 32-21. Besiktas kept missing open shots, while Hagag stepped inside his zone and hit back-to-back threes to jump the margin to 40-23 with three minutes on the clock. Besiktas head coach Ergin Ataman took another timeout to stop the collapse. Sinan Guler came off the bench to hit the visitors' first three-pointer of the night after 9 misses to make it a 41-29 game before Hapoel added the last bucket of the half after which Timmy Bowers rose to the ceiling to deny a Dalmau layup to give Hapoel another big momentum push before the break.
Pniny opened the second half with two three-pointers to put his team up 51-31. Shumpert countered with 5 points in a row and glued a third foul to Hagag, but after Apodaca failed to finish a fast break Hapoel climbed back to 19 and Nicevic committed his fourth foul fighting for the rebound. Pniny was on fire and added a corner three to stop the score on 59-39 and his next play was to add yet another three from the exact same spot, only this time he drew the foul and added a point from the line to make it a 22-point game. Besiktas' young point guard Mehmet Yagmur came off the bench and doubled his team's three-pointer total by adding 2 hits and with another assist helped make it 66-50 after 30 minutes. Besiktas finally found its rhythm and after Shumpert and Apodaca hit from long range as well, Hapoel held a 69-59 lead and took a timeout with 7:05 on the clock. Shason and Arnold kept Hapoel with a double-digit margin, but Apodaca with his jumpers made sure Besiktas stayed alive. Just when it seemed the visitors would go back home with a reasonable loss came a series of turnovers which allowed Hapoel to make another run and once again take a 20-point lead, 84-64, with three minutes on the clock. Apodaca and Shumpert once again hit from long range to make it just a 14 point game, but Hagag with a layup and an assist to Curry made it an 18-point game with a minute on the clock. Besiktas tried to make a good finish to keep its hopes high for the second leg, and Guler hit another three pointer that could turn out crucial in a week from now.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008