Hapoel Jerusalem forward Lior Eliyahu (left).
(photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)
Hapoel Jerusalem continued to build momentum by moving back above .500 in the BSL on Sunday night, thrashing Maccabi Kiryat Gat 89-50 at the Jerusalem Arena for its third straight win over all competitions.
Jerusalem, which improved to 7-6, suffered a 21-point humiliation at Bnei Herzliya in its last league game. But it bounced back with a victory over Herzliya in the State Cup quarterfinals last week before overcoming Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius in Lithuania in its Eurocup Top 16 opener.
Jerusalem led from start to finish on Sunday, opening an eightpoint gap (20-12) after one quarter and cruising in the second half after taking an 18-point (46- 28) cushion into the break.
Bar Timor and Travis Peterson led six Jerusalem players in double figures with 13 points each.
The easy win allowed Jerusalem’s coaching staff to rest players ahead of Wednesday’s Eurocup clash with Nizhny Novgorod.
Herzliya missed an opportunity to move tied with Hapoel Holon in second place on Sunday, crashing to a 99-65 loss at Maccabi Haifa, which had eight players in doubles figures.
Herzliya hasn’t been the same team since Karam Mashour suffered an injury in the cup win over Jerusalem, being outplayed for three quarters on Sunday after an encouraging start.
The visitors led by nine points (21-12) after 10 minutes, but were outscored 30-10 in the second quarter to enter the break down by 11 points. Herzliya would come no closer than 10 points in the second half.
Will Graves led Haifa with 14 points, with seven others scoring between 10 and 13 points, including Gregory Vargas, who had 10 points and 11 rebounds on his return to the side.
On Monday, Maccabi Ashdod welcomes Hapoel Gilboa/Galil and Maccabi Tel Aviv goes to Hapoel Eilat.
Meanwhile, Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv remain on course to meet in the State Cup final after being kept apart in Sunday’s semifinal draw held during the halftime break in Jerusalem.
Hapoel was paired with Hapoel Holon, while Maccabi will face Maccabi Ashdod in a repeat of last year’s final.
The semis will be held at the Jerusalem Arena on February 13, with the final to take place at the same venue three days later.
Jerusalem hasn’t won the cup since 2008, last playing in the final two years ago, losing to Maccabi Tel Aviv. Holon last played in the final eight years ago, winning its one only cup in club history with a victory over Maccabi Haifa.
That was also the last time a team not named Maccabi Tel Aviv lifted the cup, with the yellow- and-blue aiming to claim the title for an eighth straight year next month. Maccabi’s last loss in the cup came against Ironi Nahariya in the last 16 back in December 2008.
“We want to win every competition we play in, especially if it is a title we have held in the past few years,” said Maccabi captain Guy Pnini. “Ashdod will be a tough obstacle, a lot tougher than what people think. Nevertheless, we are the favorites and we will be ready.”
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