A lackluster Hapoel Jerusalem dropped to its second straight defeat of the BSL season on Sunday night, losing 74-63 at Bnei Herzliya.
Jerusalem was stunned 83-80 at Malha Arena by Maccabi Ashdod last week, but seemed to get back on track with a midweek Eurocup triumph over Lukoil Academic Sofia.
However, Brad Greenberg’s men shot a shocking 30 percent (21-of-69) from the field in Herzliya, allowing the hosts to all but clinch the victory by the end of the third quarter.
“We had trouble scoring the ball,” said Greenberg in what is an early candidate for the understatement of the season.
“We weren’t good at either side of the floor and dug a hole for ourselves.”
Jerusalem visits Bosnian champion Igokea Aleksandrovac in its second Eurocup regular season game on Wednesday before hosting the 2-0 Hapoel Eilat at Malha in BSL action next Monday.
“We’ve just got to keep working at it,” said Greenberg when asked what his team needs to do next. “We have to play better defense. We need to try and get better on both sides of the ball. It’s that simple.”
A Dan Grunfeld basket already gave Herzliya a double-digit gap (17-6) midway through the first period and Jerusalem came no closer than three points for the remainder of the first half, trailing 42-33 at the break.
A 14-2 run early in the second half (56- 37) essentially clinched Herzliya its first win of the season after last week’s heartbreaking defeat to Hapoel Tel Aviv at the buzzer.
“We made this game easy for ourselves,” said Herzliya coach Effi Birenboim. “We tormented ourselves after last week’s loss and were just waiting to explode on the floor.”
Avi Ben-Shimol led Herzliya with 21 points and nine assists, with Michal Umah scoring 20 points. Josh Duncan had 15 points and 10 rebounds for Jerusalem.
Eilat will be entering next week’s encounter against Jerusalem at Malha brimming with confidence after beating Hapoel Tel Aviv 77-76 thanks to Terrence Roderick’s basket with 1.4 seconds to play.
Tel Aviv opened a surprise 12-point cushion (22-10) after 10 minutes and still led by nine points (36-27) at the interval.
However Eilat erased the gap in the third quarter and a defensive breakdown allowed Roderick to receive the ball from an inbound pass and score the winning points with ease.
Nitzan Hanochi scored 17 points for Eilat, while Carlon Brown had 23 points for Hapoel, which was on the wrong side of a dramatic defeat after beating Herzliya last week thanks to a buzzer-beater.
Ironi Ness Ziona claimed its first ever top-flight victory on Sunday, defeating Hapoel Holon 84-81.
The newly-promoted side opened a double-digit margin (20-8) in the first quarter, but still found itself trailing (47- 45) at the interval.
A tight second half would follow, but a Tyler Honeycutt three-pointer with one minute remaining gave Ness Ziona a two-point advantage (83-81) it wouldn’t relinquish.
Honeycutt and Meir Tapiro had 17 points each, with the Israeli veteran also grabbing seven rebounds and registering six assists. Tal Dan and Mitchell Watt added 16 points each.
Shlomi Harush had 20 points for Holon, which was brought back down to earth after last week’s upset of Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Hapoel Gilboa/Galil beat Maccabi Rishon Lezion 84-60 for its first win of the season on Sunday.
Gerald Robinson had 19 points for Gilboa, which led 39-23 at halftime and never looked back, with Ricardo Marsh scoring 12 points for Rishon.
Also Sunday, Barak Netanya beat Ashdod 82-76.
Rashaun Freeman and Kenny Boynton netted 17 points each for Netanya, with Austin Freeman leading Ashdod with 17.
On Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Maccabi Haifa in a repeat of last season’s championship duel at Nokia Arena.
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