Khadeen Carrington’s critical layup as time wound down sent Hapoel Jerusalem to the Basketball Champions League title game as they slipped by Tenerife 69-68 in a hard fought battle in Malaga. Aleksandar Dzikic’s squad will face Bonn who upended the hosts, Unicaja Malaga 69-67 in the championship contest on Sunday night at 21:00 Israel time.
Jerusalem came out strong as Carrington and Levi Randolph scored for the Reds while Girogi Shermadini and Marcelinho Huertas countered for Txus Vidoretta’s team as Dzikic’s charges grabbed a slim 34-30 lead at halftime. Carrington and Brandon Brown did the damage in the third quarter to take a double figure advantage into the final frame but Tenerife took a late lead, however, Siim Sander-Vene’s clutch shooting from deep along with Carrington’s layup clinched the victory.
Carrington led the way with 19 points, Vene added 15 points and Randolph scored 12 points in the win. Huertas scored 20 points and Shermadini added 18 points in the loss.
“It was a great game,” Carrington began. “This was for coach after his mother passed. But we are team and he showed tremendous strength that he was with us. The basketball gods were with us and I have been through a a lot in my career, to be here I am soaking it all in. I am happy to be here, we have a lot of heart and we have been through a lot. I am proud of my team.”
“We have a lot of respect for Tenerife who are a very good team and everything we did they had an answer for,” Dzikic said. “We were up by 15 points and we did advance but we have to be honest, they had an open shot at the end of the game that they missed.”
The bench boss also looked ahead to the final against Bonn, “We aren’t the favorites. They don’t stop winning and surprising everyone since October. It’s going to be a very tough battle.”
Huertas spoke about his side’s loss following the game “They played more aggressive than us and scored some big 3-pointers. We came back in the 4th but that 3-pointer and-one hurt us. Either side could have won.”
Zach Hankins was a force at both ends of the floor to get the game underway, while Khadeen Carrington also scored for Hapoel Jerusalem but big man Giorgi Shermadini, Fran Guerra and Marcelinho Huertas all scored for Tenerife to take an early 18-15 lead after ten minutes of play.
Shermadini kept up his scoring barrage to start off the second quarter but so did Carrington at the other side of the court while Levi Randolph and Siim Sander-Vene also found points for Aleksandar Dzikic’s squad to grab a 34-30 lead at halftime.
Carrington kept finding the basket as the third quarter began while Brandon Brown also contributed for the Reds from deep to give Jerusalem a double digit lead 52-42 after thirty minutes of action.
However, Bruno Fitipaldo, Leandro Bolmaro and Aaron Doornekamp all scored to cut the Reds lead to 57-55 midway through the fourth quarter. Huertas started to find the bottom of the basket to give Txus Vidoretta’s squad a 67-63 lead with under a minute remaining, but Vene went from deep and added a free throw after Doornekamp’s untimely to knot the game up at 67-67.
Shermadini hit one of two from the line to go up a point, but Carrington’s layup with 21 seconds left gave Jerusalem the advantage for good as Fitipaldo’s last gasp attempt form deep was off the mark to send the Reds to the title game on Sunday night.