After suffering its first home loss in the BSL since October last week, Hapoel Jerusalem was looking to make a statement when it met Maccabi Haifa at Malha Arena once again on Sunday night.
It did so in resounding fashion, crushing Haifa 85-60 to reestablish a three-game lead over the Greens in the battle for the No. 2 seed in the playoffs.
Hapoel took its BSL home record to 10-2 after losing 99-93 to Haifa last week, snapping a ninegame winning streak at Malha.
Brad Greenberg’s men bounced back by advancing to the Eurocup quarterfinals for the first time since 2010 after beating Ulm of Germany 81-65 at Malha. They were at their defensive best yet again on Sunday to avenge last week’s loss.
Jerusalem burst out of the gates and all but secured the victory with a 19-2 run to start the night.
With the win, the Reds improved to 18-5 on the season and leapfrogged Maccabi Tel Aviv into first place, with the yellowand- blue to return to the top regardless of Monday’s result against Hapoel Tel Aviv.
Jerusalem and Maccabi meet at Nokia Arena next week, with the showdown sandwiched between two encounters with Nizhny Novgorod of Russia in the Eurocup quarterfinals.
Josh Duncan had 18 points and eight rebounds for Jerusalem on Sunday, with Yotam Halperin scoring 16 points and Derwin Kitchen coming close to recording a triple-double with 13 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
Dagan Yavzuri led Haifa (15-8) with 14 points, a week after scoring a career-high 36 points at Malha.
Also Sunday, Hapoel Eilat (14-9) remained in fifth place with a 79-68 victory over Barak Netanya (7-16). Elishay Kadir and Afik Nissim had 15 points each for Eilat, with Dawan Robinson scoring 18 points for Netanya.
Ironi Ness Ziona (13-10) is still just a single game behind Eilat after beating Bnei Herzliya (6-17) 75-66.
Ness Ziona surged ahead in the final five minutes to claim its third victory from the past four games, while handing Herzliya its 11th defeat from the last 12 contests.
Tyler Honeycutt led Ness Ziona with 18 points, seven assists and six rebounds, with Jakim Donaldson finishing with 12 points and 13 rebounds for Herzliya, which lost its second game in a row since Muli Katzurin replaced Effi Birenboim as coach.
Nevertheless, Herzliya remained two games ahead of last-place Maccabi Ashdod (4-19), which dropped to an 88-78 loss at Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (10-13) on Sunday.
Gilboa seized control with an 11-0 run to start the game and never looked back. Amit Simhon had 20 points and 10 rebounds for Gilboa, with Marcus Dove ending the night with 18 points and 16 boards for the sorry Ashdod.
Maccabi Rishon Lezion (7-16) moved three-games clear of Ashdod and the relegation zone, beating Hapoel Holon (11-12) 86-71 on the road.
A tight first half ended in a fivepoint Rishon lead (39-34) and the visitors secured the win in the third quarter, outscoring Holon 32-17. Trey Johnson and Tasmin Mitchell scored 16 points each for Rishon, with Israeli youngster Shawn Dowson adding 14 points.
D.J. Kennedy had 18 points for the reeling Holon.