Hapoel Jerusalem edged closer to claiming the No. 1 seed in the BSL postseason by securing itself at least one more week atop the standings on Sunday night by claiming a 102-87 victory over Hapoel Tel Aviv at Malha Arena.
Jerusalem leapfrogged Maccabi Tel Aviv into first place with a momentous 93-65 victory over the yellow-and-blue last week, its biggest win ever against its bitter rival.
Hapoel built on that triumph by improving to a 20-5 record with its 17th league victory from the past 19 games on Sunday. Three wins in its remaining regular season encounters will clinch it the No. 1 seed and home-court advantage in the best-of-five quarterfinal and semifinal series, as well as the benefit of hosting the second game of the two-legged final.
Tel Aviv (15-10) got off to the better start on Sunday, leading for most of the first half, only for the hosts to take a 53-51 advantage into the break.
A 12-2 run to start the second half gave Jerusalem a stranglehold on the contest (65-53), but Tel Aviv closed to within four points (75-71) early in the fourth quarter. However, it would come no closer, with Jerusalem surging ahead to register yet another impressive victory.
Bracey Wright had 22 points for Jerusalem, with Josh Duncan adding 17 points and eight rebounds. Ronald Dupree scored 16 points, while Yotam Halperin contributed 13 points and nine assists and Art Parakhouski finished with 12 points.
Raviv Limonad extended his streak of scoring at least 15 points in each game this season to 20, netting 23 points and registering seven assists. Carlon Brown added 18 points, but it wasn’t enough for the visitors to eke out their fifth win in six encounters.
Maccabi Rishon Lezion (8-17) ensured its BSL survival on Sunday night with an emphatic 70-51 victory over last-place Maccabi Ashdod (5-20).
Jake Cohen had 23 points for Rishon, which pulled ahead in the first half. Marcus Dove led Ashdod with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Ashdod is still just one win from safety, with Bnei Herzliya (6-19) losing for the 13th time in its last 14 contests, falling 90-78 at the hands of Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (12-13).
Kenny Boynton finished with 22 points for Gilboa, which held off a Herzliya fight back in the fourth quarter. Jakim Donaldson led Herzliya with 18 points.
Barak Netanya (7-18) has still got work to do to secure its BSL status after losing 75-66 at Ironi Ness Ziona (14-11). Mitchell Watt had 26 points for Ness Ziona, with Rashaun Freeman leading Netanya with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
After dropping to a dejecting defeat against Real Madrid on Thursday, Maccabi Tel Aviv (19-5) looks to avoid its fourth straight setback in all competitions when it visits Maccabi Haifa (15-9) on Monday, with the Greens losing three of their past four games. Also Monday, Hapoel Eilat (15-9) visits Hapoel Holon (12-12).
In other basketball news, Israel Basketball Association chairman Dan Halutz announced his resignation on Sunday night. Halutz was appointed just last August, but decided to quit after not being given the authority he demanded.