It was the classic tale of two halves in the FIBA Europe League Group D match between Hapoel Tel Aviv and KK Belgrade at Ussishkin arena last night, which Hapoel rebounded to win 109-79.
Hapoel was down 46-41 at halftime but the five-point deficit wasn't the major concern – rather their sloppy, undisciplined and poorly organized play.
Uncontested rebounds dropping, inbound passes going straight to the opposition, lay-ups missed and dunks gone astray were just some of the litany of Hapoel errors. In every facet of the game the were being outplayed, if not embarrassing themselves.
This made their victory even more impressive. They are now tied for first in the group, although St. Petersburg still has a game in hand.
Hapoel has the redoubtable Kelvin Gibbs largely to thank. He scored a game high 29 points with an impressive 14-15 from the field. In the first quarter he hit nine straight points for Hapoel as they went to the first quarter with a 16-12 deficit.
In the second quarter, it looked as though Hapoel had left all their fight at Malcha on Sunday night as they struggled to find any rhythm or fluidity in the play.
The well-drilled and organized Serbians, led by Vladimir Micov and Sasa Bratic, were doing everything right. The extent of their first half dominance was indicated by a massive 23-3 rebound advantage, but after the long break they couldn't take a rebound and will be still scratching their heads wondering what went wrong.
By the fourth quarter, Belgrade was shellshocked as Hapoel went on a 34-13 scoring spree, virtually playing the game uncontested. Belgrade took only 25 shots after halftime to Hapoel's 41.
Gil Mossinson with 20 points was important for Hapoel, and gave the side some spark when he came on, including a buzzer-beating three-pointer to end the third quarter. Israel Sheinfeld came back from his poor health last week to contribute 18 points.
For Belgrade, Bratic with 20 and Micov with 18 were the main contributors.