Hapoel Jerusalem with the first chance against AEK Athens

Hapoel Jerusalem will meet AEK Basketball Club in the first match of the Best of Three series in the quarter-finals of the Basketball Champions League, Tuesday, April 4, 2023, in Pais Arena.

Hapoel Jerusalem won Group I of the round of 16, which also included Dijon, Strasbourg and Hapoel Holon with 5 wins and one defeat. They rank 19th in ppg with 77.0, 15th in rebounds with 35.1 and 3rd in assists with 20.1. Zach Hankins is the most important player with 15.5 points, 8.8 rebounds helped by Randolph’s 13.3 points, Carrington’s 12.7 points and Smith’s with 10.5 points, 6.2 assists. Hankins was named MVP of the Month in March and helped the team tie a fantastic streak of 14 consecutive victories in all competitions, Maccabi Tel Aviv stopped their streak this weekend with an 88-74 success.

The Greeks finished 2nd in Group K of the round of 16 after Malaga but in front of Galatasaray and Limoges with 4 wins and 2 defeats. From a statistical point of view, the season does not look very good, with 21st place in ppg with 76.5, 18th place in rebounds per game with 34.6 and 7th place in assists per game with APG 19.1. The hardest blow was the announcement that Janis Strelnieks (14.1 ppg) is expected to be out for six months. The transfers of Brynton Lemar (16.3 ppg) and Pierre Oriola (8.3 ppg) strengthened the team and were helpful for Akil Mitchell (15.2 ppg, 8.9 rebounds) the MVP of February. Their game still has fluctuations in form, in the last 5 matches they have 2 wins and 3 defeats after a victory with Panathinaikos followed 2 defeats with PAOK and Promitheas.

Hapoel Jerusalem ranking third in defensive rating and AEK a top-five defense, holding opponents to less than 75 points per game this season will be the protagonists of a heated duel. We will see two masters of rebounds, the winners of the last 2 “MVP of the Month” titles, Akil Mitchell (8.9 rebs) and Zach Hankins (8.8 rebs).

Valentin Petruta

Photo credit: Basketball Champions League