Hapoel Jerusalem started off their Basketball Champions League Round of 16 campaign on the wing foot falling to JDA Dijon 84-77. Gavin Ware proved to be unstoppable from the midrange and by the basket while veteran point guard David Holston ran the show like a professional floor general to notch the win over Aleksander Dzikic’s squad.
Levi Randolph and Speedy Smith found points as the game got underway but Ware, Holston and Markis McDuffie responded and put the French side in front at halftime 46-41. Mareks Mejeris and Smith helped tie the game up at 51-51 in the third quarter but Ware continued to have plenty of space to operate, Holston hit his shots while Gregor Hrovat and McDuffie scored key baskets to notch the 7-point victory.
Randolph paced the Reds with 14 points, Hankins added 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Khadeen Carrington scored 11 points in the loss. Ware led all scorers with 24 points, Holston scored 20 points and dished out 13 assists while McDuffie added 16 points in the win.
“It’s never easy to play in this type of gym against Jerusalem as we experienced from the game last year in Holon,” Dijon coach Nenad Markovic said. “I was afraid as to how we would handle the ball flow and be able to attack the weak points while exploiting the talents of our players. But once we were good on defense we played good minutes for the majority of the game. This is just the first game and we have to stay humble.”
“The energy was not on the level that we needed to beat this type of team with four ball handlers and athletic bigs,” Dzikic began. “All those plays part of their game, the X and Os and we practiced that every day, I don’t know what happened. At a certain point I understand that there are some problems, but I don’t care now. I think we have to play harder, tougher, braver.”
The game MVP Gavin Ware reflected on the game, “It was a really good game for us and we executed on both offense and defense. We still have more work to do and we need to stay humble.”
Jerusalem forward Mareks Mejeris spoke about the game from his point of view, “Pretty bad game form us and the most upsetting part is that it was at home and we can’t do that here. We have to play a lot more energized.”
Levi Randolph scored early for Hapoel Jerusalem as Speedy Smith ran the offense to perfection, but Matt Mobley, Markis McDuffie and David Holston all scored from deep while Gavin Ware and Gregor Hrovat found points as well for JDA Dijon. However, Brandon Brown drilled home a 3-pointer as the first quarter came to an end, to cut the visitors lead to 23-21 after ten minutes of play.
Ware, McDuffie and Holston got busy for Nenad Markovic’s squad while Khadeen Carrington and Smith countered with triples as Dijon still stayed in front 33-29 with five minutes left in the second quarter. Zach Hankins and Randolph scored, Ware hit a pair of midrange shots, while Holston and Jonathan Rousselle found the bottom of the basket as well to give Dijon a 46-41 advantage at halftime.
Mareks Mejeris scored a pair inside, Smith added a layup, Hankins put in two but Mobley came back with a deuce as the game as all knotted up at 51-51 midway through the third quarter. Ware put down an alley-oop and then added a pair of jumpers for 6 straight points, Hankins scored twice inside, Smith went from deep but Hrovat, Ware and Robin Ducote to put Dijon back in front 67-61 after thirty minutes of action.
McDuffie and Jacques Alingue both dunked, Carrington put in a layup, Holston and Siim Sander Vene traded triples, Ware hit another midrange jumper to keep Dijon ahead 78-71 with 3:13 remaining in the fourth quarter. Jerusalem tried to cut down the lead but Ware and Holston with free throws and McDuffie with points polished off the win for Dijon.