Hapoel Jerusalem’s BSL campaign continued to gather pace on Sunday night with an eighth-straight victory. Hapoel extended its winning streak on the wings of a comfortable 82-71 triumph over Bnei Herzliya at Malha Arena to improve to 11-3 and maintain its hold on first place in the league standings.
Josh Duncan scored a career-high 31 points, while also grabbing nine rebounds, with Lior Eliyahu adding 23 points and seven rebounds for Brad Greenberg’s surging team.
Michael Umeh had 24 points for Herzliya (5-9).
Eliyahu was unstoppable in the first quarter, hitting all five of his field-goal attempts for 13 points to give Hapoel a 27-19 lead.
Two more points by Eliyahu capped a 9-0 run to start the second quarter (36-19) and any chance Herzliya had of mounting a comeback was effectively over when coach Effi Birenboim was ejected after a heated exchange with the officials.
Duncan (19 points) and Eliyahu (16) combined for 35 points to give Hapoel a 16-point margin (48-32) at halftime and the hosts cruised after the break on the way to an easy win.
Tzvika Sherf suffered his first defeat as the coach of Maccabi Rishon Lezion (4-9) on Sunday, with Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (7-7) claiming an 85-68 win in Gan Ner.
Rishon beat Gilboa 84-77 in the State Cup quarterfinals in Sherf’s first game at the helm 10 days ago before defeating Ness Ziona last week in the veteran coach’s return to the BSL.
However, Gilboa opened a seven-point gap (40-33) by the break and was in complete control after beginning the second half with an 8-0 run.
Kenny Boynton had 18 points for Gilboa, with Gerald Robinson and DeShawn Sims scoring 17 points each.
Shawn Dowson led Rishon with 18 points.
“We couldn’t beat a team which played a lot better than us tonight,” said Sherf.
“We didn’t play well on defense and allowed them to score many three pointers and easy baskets. We must remember that we are still fighting for our place in the top flight.”
Ironi Ness Ziona’s remarkable start to the season is beginning to seem like a distant memory after it fell to 7-6 on Sunday following its third-straight loss.
Hapoel Holon (7-7) entered the contest on the back of a three-game losing streak but outfought Ness Ziona for a 95-88 win on the road.
Shlomi Harush led five Holon players in double figures, missing out on a triple- double by a single rebound, finishing the night with 23 points, 10 assists and nine boards.
Brian Asbury and Isaac Rosefelt netted 19 and 18 points, respectively. Anthony Goods had 22 points for Ness Ziona.
On Monday, Maccabi Haifa (8-5) hosts Maccabi Tel Aviv (8-4) at Romema Arena in a repeat of last season’s BSL final.
Haifa has won two straight league games after losing three in a row, while the yellow-and-blue will be brimming with confidence after claiming an impressive Euroleague win at Galatasaray on Thursday for its ninth consecutive triumph in all competitions.
After going a perfect 7-0 in the month of December, Hapoel Tel Aviv (8-4), which has won five straight league games and seven in a row in all competitions, will look to carry the momentum into the new year.
On Monday, the Reds welcome Hapoel Eilat (7-6), while Maccabi Ashdod (2-11) visits Barak Netanya (5-8).
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