Tomer Ginat and Xavier Munford remained the difference as Hapoel remain unbeaten in this season’s EuroCup.
The pair combined for 48 points to give London a second consecutive European defeat on home court.
Heading into the game, the Lions were eager to bounce back after falling short in last week’s double overtime defeat to Paris. Despite Sam Dekker being unavailable, London were boosted by the much-anticipated return of Kareem Queeley, who had been sidelined for just under a year through injury.
Coach Bozić also had another big to choose from in Rokas Gustys, who made his debut after joining the Lions on a short-term deal.
The opening 10 minutes saw the Lions start slow whilst Tel Aviv came out firing to build a strong, early lead. Gabe Olaseni and Tomer Ginat started well for their sides, with early indicators highlighting that the match could feature a battle between the big men.
In the latter minutes of the quarter, Hapoel drained back-to-back corner three-pointers as the visitors began to drift away from their opposition. As a result, the Lions went into the second quarter trailing by nine points.
Despite their near perfect record in all competitions, London have often started slow and grown into games this season. In the second quarter, the Lions started with intent by putting together a successful string of possessions. However, Tel Aviv later regained momentum and seemed to be the team calling the shots at the Copper Box.
The first half was all about Tomer Ginat (20p on 90% FG, 6rbs, 2a, 1stl) – who was controlling the game in every department. Tel Aviv seemed to have an advantage with physicality which was evident in their free throws and points in the paint.
The Lions were better in the second quarter of the game, but still found themselves trailing by 12 heading into halftime.
In the second half, Hapoel came firing out of the blocks and scored 10 straight points. The British side suddenly trailed by 22 and faced a mammoth task against one of the best teams in this year’s competition.
However, the Londoners never go down without a fight. With an immediate response, Conor Morgan put up seven straight unanswered points of his own as the Lions looked to shave the deficit as much as possible.
It was a big quarter for Xavier Munford, who has been one of Tel Aviv’s standout players this season. As a result, the visitors were able to continue putting up points of their own and led 77-59 moving into the final 10 minutes of the game.
London enjoyed a spell in the fourth quarter as they looked to continue trimming the Hapoel’s lead – which went as low as a nine-points in the Lions’ surge.
Although a couple of three-pointers from Matt Morgan made it interesting, Tel Aviv were able to slowly grind the game out. They led by five as the game came to a close, but a buzzer-beating-three made the final score 98-90 in favour of Hapoel.
Watch the highlights from London Lions vs Hapoel Shlomo Tel Aviv here.