Pinar Karsiyaka will give everything against Hapoel Jerusalem

Hapoel Jerusalem will host Pinar Karsiyaka tomorrow evening in a game that counts for Group K of the Basketball Champions League Round of 16. The game will be played at the Aleksandar Nikolic Hall in Belgrade.

Both teams had to play overtime in their Round 1 games but only the Israeli side managed to win in the end. Hapoel won at Peristeri in a game where they were trailing by 16 points in the second quarter. At the same time, Pinar Karsiyaka suffered a heartbreaking loss after having a double-digit lead at the beginning of the 4th quarter against BCL specialists Lenovo Tenerife.

Hapoel recently went through a coaching change, when they hired Ilias Kantzouris to replace Aleksandar Dzikic. Kantzouris was under contract with Limoges, but he left the French side to take the challenge of leading Hapoel to BCL success. It will not be an easy task for the Greek coach as Dzikic had a quite successful stint at Hapoel, winning the Israeli Cup, and the Israeli League Cup and was named the Israeli League Coach of the Year last season. The expectations remain high and the dream of Hapoel fans is to see their team lift another continental trophy exactly 20 years after winning the EuroCup (ULEB Cup at the time) in 2004. The roster has great quality, with many scoring options. Their leading scorer is Levi Randolph, but Khadeen Carrington, Speedy Smith, Zach Hankins, Chris Johnson and Maurice Ndour all have an average of around or over 10 points per game.

On the side, Pinar Karsiyaka has a strong season too. The team coached by former Turkish national team coach Ufuk Sarica is currently 4th in the Turkish League, still one of the strongest domestic leagues in Europe. They had a bad stretch of games this month, losing 4 games in January in all competitions, but on Sunday they recorded an impressive win against Anadolu Efes. Led by the American trio of Vitto Brown (29 points), Vernon Carey (26 points) and Errick McCollum (18 points) the Green and Red team showed that they quickly bounced back from the disappointment of losing a game they should have won against Tenerife and they will arrive to Belgrade with great confidence for tomorrow’s game.

Imre Halasz

Photo: FIBA