Hapoel Tel Aviv took a step closer to the FIBA Europe League play-offs with an 87:67 away win over Skonto that leaves them in 2nd place in Group C.
A.J. Guyton had his best game of the season for Israeli side, hitting 11/14 of his field goal attempts (including 5/6 3-pointers) to score 27 points.
As has become an unwelcome trademark for Skonto this season, they began the game badly, falling behind 0:8. Dametri Hill finally opened Skonto's scoring account and the first quarter ended 22:31.
Skonto rallied in the 2nd quarter and 3-pointers from Darren Kelly and Rinalds Sirsnins gave them a 34:33 lead. Hapoel answered quickly. Center Yaniv Green converted 2 dunks and Bosnian foward Jasmin Hukic hit 2 three-pointers. At halftime Hapoel had regained the lead, 41:51.
The remainder of the game was close, but Hapoel did enough to make sure that their 10-12 point cushion remained intact. Skonto had their chances to come back, but too many turnovers and easy baskets hurt them.
Conversely, Hapoel played solid basketball to make sure that they held on to win the game.
MVP of the game: A.J. Guyton, Hapoel Samsung Tel Aviv
Erez Edlshtain, Head Coach, Hapoel Tel Aviv:
"When we came to Riga we already knew that the game will be hard. Skonto is a very young team and that’s why they are so dangerous. We hope that Skonto will win also some strong teams – it will be good for us, because the league is very hard and there are no possibilities to win with half power."
Virginijus Praskevicius, Hapoel Tel Aviv:
"I didn’t know anybody of Skonto team, only Biedrins, who will be a great player in the future. It is very hard to play against a very young teams."
Guntis Endzels, Head Coach, Skonto Riga:
"Practice, more game practice – these are keys for win. They played with strong defense and that made it a hard game for our young players. All our players were good and I have nothing bad to say to anybody."
Rinalds Sirsnins, Skonto Riga:
"We felt easier, because we played at home, there are not too long traveling to games. At the end we just lost luck and power, that’s why we lost."