Hapoel Jerusalem secured home-court advantage in the BSL playoffs on Monday night with a convincing 83- 63 win at Ironi Ashkelon.

Jerusalem seized control of the game with an early 10-0 run, but held just a four-point cushion (39-35) at the break after Ashkelon scored nine of the final 11 points of the first half.

However, Hapoel clinched the victory in the third period, opening the second half with a 26-2 surge (65-37) from which the sorry Ashkelon was never going to come back.

“We played well in the second half, but we should have already finished the game off in the first,” said Jerusalem coach Sharon Drucker.

Brian Randle had 18 points, 13 rebounds and five assists for Jerusalem, which won for the fourth time in five games.

D.J. Strawberry added 15 points for Hapoel, while Tony Skinn scored 17 for Ashkelon, which lost its sixth straight encounter.

“We are an embarrassment to our profession,” said Ashkelon coach Eric Alfasi. “It looks like some of our players think they are already on their summer holidays on the beach.”

Jerusalem could still climb one more place to end the regular season in third position should it beat Maccabi Tel Aviv in its final game next Sunday and Maccabi Rishon Lezion lose at home to Ashkelon.

However, assuming that unlikely combination doesn’t become a reality, Jerusalem will play Hapoel Holon in the best-of-five quarterfinal playoffs, while Rishon will come up against Ashkelon, with Hapoel Gilboa/Galil to face Maccabi Ashdod regardless.

Maccabi Tel Aviv will play the winner of Thursday’s game between BC Habika’a and Barak Netanya.

Also Monday, Maccabi Haifa won for the second time in three games, defeating Bnei Hasharon 83-82 in a meaningless showdown in Herzliya.

Sylven Landesberg had 29 points for Haifa, while LaceDarius Dunn scored 29 for Bnei Hasharon.

Haifa, which had lost 15 straight games before winning two of three, completed its regular season schedule on Monday, while Bnei Hasharon will do so with an encounter against Ashdod next Sunday.

The bottom three teams will all play each other one more time to determine their final positions, but not relegation, as no team will be demoted from the BSL this season.

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