Hapoel Tel Aviv came up short against Buducnost 70-64 as the Reds had to play catch up all game long after falling behind by double digits early on. With the loss, Danny Franco’s team are now .500 at 3-3 in Eurocup action as they will look to get back onto the winning track in Israeli league play on Friday at Hapoel Holon and then on the road in Germany when they meet Hamburg in continental play next week.
Cam Reynolds set the tone early for Buducnost with 17 first quarter points to put his team in front 26-14 after ten minutes, but Xavier Munford and Chinanu Onuaku worked hard to cut it to 40-32 at halftime despite playing with a short bench. Alpha Kaba kept controlling the interior but Tomer Ginat and Munford kept chipping away at the lead to bring the game to within just 2-points 55-53 at the start of the fourth quarter. But Kaba kept scoring inside while Petar Popovic and Reynolds hit their shots from beyond the arc to wrap up the win.
Munford paced the Reds with 21 points, Onuaku added 15 points while Ginat chipped in with 10 points in the loss. Reynolds led all scorers with 22 points, Kaba put in 17 points and Trae Bell-Haynes scored 14 points in the win.
“We didn’t play good enough to beat a team like Buducnost,” Franco said. “We had the feeling that we were always close; we had to pick up the level of our game, decision-making, creating shots a little better, be a little smarter on defense leading guys to where we know. Paying attention more to details. We didn’t do it good enough and unfortunately we were punished for that.”
“We opened the game very well with excellent three-point [shooting] percentages,” began Buducnost coach Vlada Jovanovic. “I expected their reaction in the second half and we could tell we had a problem on the offensive rebounds for almost 15 minutes. When we fixed that problem, we took control of the game. We have a lot of games in front of us.”
Onuaku who joined the team just a couple of weeks ago spoke about the contest and how he has been integrating into the squad, “We did fight and nobody wanted to lose. We couldn’t get on the fast break or the defensive boards. Personally I feel good and I’m learning the plays with the team.”
Buducnost big man Alpha Kaba also reflected on the game, ”We lost the previous game against Paris, a game we should have won, so we had to react today. We know the way they play here – a lot of intensity, an amazing crowd, so we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We just got the W and we’re happy. We just tried our best. Some days we’ll play good, some days we’ll play bad. Today Reynolds just did his thing. I’m really happy for him. He’s a great shooter and we need him at this level every game.”
Gil Beni who got the start due to J’Covan Brown’s absence scored the first points of the game for Hapoel Tel Aviv but Alpha Kaba scored a pair inside while Cam Reynolds hit a pair from the outside to give Buducnost an early 10-2 lead. Reynolds dunked and went again for a pair from deep, Trae Bell-Haynes and Jordan McRae traded baskets, Reynolds nailed another one from deep, Chinanu Onuaku scored two from inside but Bell-Haynes drilled a 3-pointer to end the first quarter to give the visitors a 26-14 lead.
McRae scored inside and JP Tokoto scored from the outside but Marko Jagodic-Kuridza and Reynolds immediately came back with points while Kaba added a mini hook as well to bump up the lead to 35-21 with five minutes left in the second quarter. Munford dialled up long distance, Onuaku scored in the paint, Bell-Haynes went from deep at the end of the shot clock, Tokoto put down a dunk and Munford scored off the glass to cut the advantage to 40-32 at halftime.
Petar Popovic hit a bank shot to begin the third quarter, Munford cleaned up the glass, Ginat scored as well and Onuaku dunked, but Kaba scored yet again to keep Vladimir Jovanovic’s squad in front 47-40 midway through the period. Phil Booth hit a jumper, Onuaku jammed so did Aaron White at the other end, Ginat scored while Munford and McRae hit their foul shots to get to within 4-points, 55-51 after thirty minutes of play.
Ginat opened the fourth quarter with points, Popovic countered, Zalmanson scored inside but so did Kaba as Buducnost stayed ahead 61-55 with five minutes remaining in regulation time. Kaba dunked, Munford came back with a layup, Popovic and Reynolds drilled in 3-pointers to go up by double digits to wrap up the win.