Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem opened its ULEB Cup campaign with a 74-73 home win over SIG Strasbourg on Tuesday night in the Israeli capital. Hapoel took the lead in the second quarter through a 12-0 run, but saw the visitors take the lead back in the second half. Guy Pniny connected 7 key points in the last quarter when jerusalem regained the lead and never looked back. Hapoel didn't go to the line even once in the first half, but it was a free throw by Dror Hagag with 9 seconds on the clock that secured the win. Eddie Shannon's last-second three-pointer allowed the visitors to leave with a minimal defeat. SIG grabbed 10 offensive boards in the second half, which helped to cover for too many turnovers, but that was enough only to stay close. Jaime Arnold led Hapoel with 18 points, Ramel Curry added 16 with 7 rebounds and Pniny scored 13 – 11 of them in the second half. Shannon led SIG with 18 points and Derrick Obasohan added 15 points.
SIG started the game better and took an early 4-9 lead. Arnold collected 7 early points for the hosts, but Strasbourg continued to push the ball in. Shannon and Obasohan combined for 13 points in the first quarter with just a single miss from the field, and despite three 24 seconds violations, the visitors led throughout the opening quarter and held a 17-24 after 10 minutes. A totally different Hapoel showed up for the second quarter. Arnold, Timmy Bowers and Curry with 7 quick points sent Hapoel on a 12-0 run in the first 2:24 minutes of the second quarter for a 29-24 lead. John McCord broke Strasbourg's drought with a mid-range jumper, and once Hapoel's rain of hits stopped, it was a close game again. Strasbourg managed to collect points despite shooting often in the very last seconds of the shot clock, and finished the half down 36-33. Hapoel lost its rhythm and allowed Bernard King to tie the score at 43-43 with a long-range jumper off the fast break. The hosts struggled on the offensive side and committed too many turnovers, which SIG used to collect easy points on the fast break as McCord dunked to make it 50-54. Hapoel narrowed it to 53-55 at the end of the third. Sanya Giffa gave SIG a 4-point lead early in the fourth, but then Pniny led a 9-2 local run with a long-range bomb and two layups, which forced Strasbourg to take a timeout down by three, with 5:41 to play. Both teams failed to handle the ball, and entered the last two minutes of the match with Hapoel up 69-65. Curry made it a 6-point game, but King went to the line to shoot three with 55 seconds on the clock and made it just a one-possession game. Hapoel struggled again and King stole an inbound on his way to the line again with 32 seconds to play, only this time he missed both shots. Dror Hagag connected one from the line with 10 seconds to play to give Hapoel a 74-70 lead, before Shannon and Arnold exchanged free throws, and Shannon nailed a long-range hit in the last second to make it just a one-point loss.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007