| Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem kept its home record perfect in the Last 16 following an 82-73 victory over UNICS Kazan in Group J on Tuesday evening at Goldberg Sports Hall in the Israeli capital. The win lifts Hapoel’s record to 3-1 in the group and keeps it at least tied for first place depending on the result of Power Electronics Valencia’s game later in the evening against Galatasaray Café Crown. Meanwhile UNICS dropped to 2-2. Hapoel's 9-point win could become a key element in the future of the group, in case of a tiebreaker, since UNICS won the previous game between them by just 7 points. Hapoel built a double-digit lead in the second quarter and stayed on top until the buzzer. UNICS suffered from a very passive offensive game and went to the foul line only 3 times the entire night. Maciej Lampe was the only offensive weapon for the team, especially in the second half when he scored 24 out of the team's 41 points. UNICS cut the margin several times to just 5 points, but Hapoel quickly hit back to a comfortable 10-point lead and in the closing minutes the focus of both benches was on the final points difference. Hapoel dominated the boards 36-26 and was accurate from the line with 17 made shots in 19 attempts, two aspects that played a key role to secure the needed gap. Yogev Ohayon registered another big performance with 19 points and just a single miss from the field in addition to 4 assists, Tre Simmons added 16 with 7 rebounds and 5 assists without leaving the floor for a second the entire game. Brandon Hunter had 15 points and 8 boards. Dijon Thompson was a silent killer as always with 14 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists while Yuval Naimy finished the game with 13 points and 4 assists. The visitors got 30 points from Lampe and 13 from Marko Popovic, who scored 9 in the first quarter.
Hapoel was aggressive from the tipoff and scored its first two baskets with dunks by Hunter and Kevinn Pinkney. UNICS's guards tried to make shots from the perimeter, but it was Kresimir Loncar who scored the first points from close range and put his team on the board after four minutes, 6-2. Popovic finally scored from long distance to become the second UNICS player to get points, but Hapoel was still ahead, 10-7, midway through the first quarter. Popovic added another bomb, but Thompson used his hot hand to reach 7 points and 3 offensive rebounds in seven minutes and set the gap on 15-10. Lampe scored from close range and Popovic nailed his third three of the quarter to tie the score at 17-17, but Simmons scored from behind the arc to set the first quarter score on 20-17. Ohayon started to get involved with big minutes. He scored 4 points, drew the second foul from Popovic and dished an assist to Simmons to it 28-19. Lampe scored 4 quick points only to see Sharon Shason with a three pointer and Ohayon with 4 points in a row and a big steal make it 39-28 after 15 minutes. Both sides went through a three-minute drought until Naimy pushed to gap to 41-28 only to see UNICS make a good finish to enter the break down just 41-32.
Loncar and Lampe continued the run early in the second half and with threes made it just a 5-point game. Ohayon and Simmons answered at the other end, but Lampe was on fire to keep almost by himself kept UNICS in the game, 53-44. Hunter drew the third foul from Lampe, but the big man continued to shine and cut the margin again to 55-50 with his 12th third quarter point, only to see Naimy and Simmons double the difference back to 10. However, once again the final say was by the visiting side who entered the closing quarter down 60-53. Hunter inside and Naimy on the arc pushed the difference to 12 again, while UNICS had almost nobody but Lampe to create points and UNICS scored only 4 points in the quarter through five minutes. Vladimir Veremeenko made a big block, and hit a three pointer to make it a 5- point game, but once again Hapoel's answer was quick and clear as Thompson scored from downtown and pushed the gap to 72-62 with two minutes on the game clock. UNICS had to move fast and Popovic tried to create quick offense, but missed only to see Hunter add another big dunk and this time also a bonus from the line. Lampe tried to save the 7-point win from Kazan and scored a three-pointer, but a big assist by Ohayon for a Thompson dunk eased things for Hapoel's bench, and Naimy scored once from the line, to set the gap on 82-70. The pressure continued until the last second after Petr Samoylenko delivered for the third time from the perimeter close to the buzzer to make it just a 9-point game, but a Hapoel timeout made sure no mistakes happened and the key lead lasted.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010