Hapoel Jerusalem finally got off the mark on Sunday, while Maccabi Tel Aviv
returned to winning ways in the BSL with an emphatic 87-67 victory at Maccabi
Jerusalem entered Sunday’s game against Maccabi Ashdod on the
brink of crisis mode after opening the season with three straight
However, Ashdod, which also began its campaign 0-3, was the
ideal opponent for the under pressure Hapoel, with Sharon Drucker’s team opening
the night with a 15-2 run and never looking back on the way to a 90-71
“We played as if we had 20 kilos on our backs in our last game so I
told the players that they have to try and enjoy the game more,” a relieved
Drucker said. “Clearly we were under pressure. We didn’t plan to begin
the season like this.”
An 11-0 Maccabi Tel Aviv run put it in a
commanding position in the first period at the renovated Romema Arena (30- 14),
but the gap was just 10 points (47- 37) at halftime.
The hosts closed to
within four points (52-48) in the third quarter and were still in the hunt with
10 minutes remaining (65-57).
However, Tel Aviv had no intention of
falling to a second straight BSL loss after last week’s upset at the hands of
Maccabi Rishon Lezion.
Haifa ran out of steam and scored just two points
in the first seven-and-a-half minutes of the fourth quarter, allowing the
yellow-and-blue to go on a gameclinching 13-2 surge (78-59).
led Tel Aviv with 19 points, six rebounds and six assists, while Giorgi
Shermadini and Yogev Ohayon scored 11 points each.
Ido Kozikaro had 17
points and nine boards for Haifa, which fell to 2-2.
At Malha, Jerusalem
got the start it was hoping for, with Uri Kukia’s basket opening an early 15-2
Ashdod, which had lost its previous three games by an average 16
points while allowing a league worse 86.3 points per contest, closed back to
within six points (29-23) by the end of the first quarter. But Jerusalem scored
the first six points of the second period to reestablish a double-digit margin
and was in a commanding position at the break thanks to Jacob Pullen.
young American guard was unstoppable from beyond the arc in the first half,
hitting all five of his three-point attempts, with his final long-range basket of
the period taking his personal tally to 18 points and giving Hapoel a 55-43
Ashdod came no closer than nine points in the remainder of
the game (60-51), with Hapoel ending the third frame with an 11-2 run (71-53)
which rendered the final 10 minutes all but meaningless.
Pullen led six
Jerusalem players in double-figures with 21 points, while Courtney Fells scored
15 and Craig Smith contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Chris Allen had
18 points for Ashdod, which dropped to 0-4, losing yet again by
Hapoel Gilboa/Galil joined Ashdod at 0-4 soon after,
suffering an 86-80 overtime defeat at home to Hapoel Eilat (3- 1) and former
coach Oded Katash.
Eilat had the edge (38-37) after a tight first half
and was in control until Gilboa went on a 9-0 run to move ahead (73- 71) late in
Austin Freeman’s basket forced overtime (73-73) and the
visitors would score the first six points of the extra period as well to take a
lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Jerome Tillman had 20 points for Eilat,
with Freeman adding 18 points and 14 rebounds.
Rakim Sanders led Gilboa
with 19 points and eight rebounds.
Hapoel Holon improved to 3-1 at the
expense of Bnei Herzliya (2-2) on Sunday, claiming a 91-79 home
Herzliya opened a 31-21 gap after one period, but the hosts came
right back to take a one-point edge (44-43) at the interval and never dropped
the lead in the second half.
Tyler Smith and Jerome Dyson had 19 points
each for Holon, with Jumaine Jones leading Herzliya with 21 points and 11
The BSL’s two remaining unbeaten teams will be in action on
Monday, with Maccabi Rishon Lezion hosting Hapoel Tel Aviv and Barak Netanya
visiting Ironi Ashkelon.