Hapoel Jerusalem’s miserable start to the season got even worse on Sunday night
with a 95-93 defeat to Ironi Ashkelon at Malha Arena.
For a third
straight game, Jerusalem’s defense was totally hopeless, allowing the visitors
to do as they pleased, with Ashkelon holding a double-digit lead for large
periods of the game until a late Jerusalem run gave it a chance to snatch a
However, despite having to run for safety several times during
Saturday’s training session following the rocket attacks on Ashkelon, Eric
Alfasi’s men held on for a deserved win at Malha, prompting Jerusalem fans to
boo their team off the court.
“I can’t really have any complaints towards
my players because they came in with the right attitude,” said underfire
Jerusalem coach Oded Katash.
“We just couldn’t stop Ashkelon tonight.
There is a lot of pressure in our play and I hope that our defense will settle
down once Brian Randle and John Thomas return from injuries. We have still got
plenty of work to do.”
D.J. Strawberry had 24 points, five rebounds and
five assists for Jerusalem, with Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley bouncing
back from his disappointing debut with 21 points.
Naimi added 20 points for Hapoel, which had an impressive offensive game (23 of
39 from two-point range, nine of 22 from beyond the arc), but was simply useless
Dwayne Mitchell led six Ashkelon players in double-figures
with 18 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, with Raymar Morgan and Marco
Killingsworth adding 16 points each and Amit Simhon scoring 14 for Ironi, which
improved to 2-1 on the season after only just losing to Maccabi Tel Aviv last
Ashkelon had the edge after the first 10 minutes (26-25) and
extended its lead towards the end of the first half, taking a 52-43 margin into
The visitors remained in front throughout the third period and
a 6-0 run in the first minute of the fourth frame gave Alfasi’s team a
comfortable 77-64 gap.
A 12-2 run capped by a crazy Naimi three-pointer
with 16 seconds to play brought Hapoel within a single point (94-93), but Moshe
Mizrahi missed a chance to win the game from beyond the arc at the buzzer and
Jerusalem dropped to a defeat it fully deserved.
Meanwhile, Hapoel Holon
crushed Bnei Hasharon 119-80, ensuring J.J.
Hickson had a BSL debut he
will quickly want to forget.
Holon outscored the visitors 31-17 in the
first period and 31-18 in the second on the way to a resounding
Bryant Dunston had 29 points and 14 rebounds for Holon, with Ron
Lewis adding 27 points, 21 of them in the first half.
Hickson had 20
points and eight rebounds for Bnei Hasharon, which looked lost from the start of
the game and never came close to giving Holon a fight.
recorded its first win of the season on Sunday, beating Hapoel Gilboa/Galil
Haifa opened a 20-point margin by the break (52-32) and cruised in
the second half on the way to a confidence boosting win.
Landesberg had 32 points for Haifa, with Sean Williams and Carlos Powell scoring
21 and 20 points, respectively.
Courtney Fells netted 22 points for
Gilboa a day after being held by police for several hours after allegedly
refusing to undergo an alcohol test and assaulting a policeman when his car was
pulled over following a night out at Kibbutz Yagur.
Maccabi Rishon Lezion
also got off the mark after its bye week, beating BC Habika’a 78-66 at
The game was finely balanced with 10 minutes to play (59-58), but
Rishon outscored the visitors 19-8 in the final quarter for an important
Joe Crawford had 19 points for Rishon, with Adrian Uter adding 18
points and 11 rebounds, while Paul Delaney scored 19 points for
On Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Barak Netanya.