Hapoel Jerusalem made it two straight wins to start its BSL title defense on Saturday night, beating Hapoel Holon 89-73 at the Jerusalem Arena.
The club’s first ever championship banner was raised to the rafters ahead of the start of Saturday’s game and the hosts had little trouble registering the win.
While it was thrashed by 21 points at Nizhny Novgorod in its Eurocup opener last week, Jerusalem has so far won its local league games by an average 15.5 points and will be hoping to carry some of the momentum into Wednesday’s continental contest against Lithuania’s Neptunas Klaipeda.
Bar Timor led Jerusalem on Saturday with 22 points, while Donta Smith added 14 points. Will Clyburn had 20 points for Holon, which fell to 1-1.
Holon took a two-point edge (20-18) into the second quarter following a tight first 10 minutes, but an 9-0 run in the second quarter saw Jerusalem establish a double-digit margin (37-27). The hosts still led by double figures (43-33) at the break, only for Holon to score five unanswered points in the first minute of the second half. However, Jerusalem would once more go on a 9-0 surge (52-38) and would allow Holon no closer than five points until the final buzzer.
Earlier Saturday, Jerusalem announced that it has released last season’s finals MVP, Bracey Wright, for what it described as a “blatant contract violation.”
According to Hapoel, Wright received permission to travel to the US to take care of personal issues, only to instead fly to China in order to negotiate a contract with a local club.
Hapoel has already signed a player to replace Wright, bringing in Matt Janning. The 27-year-old shooter averaged 6.9 points in 21.6 minutes for Anadolu Efes Istanbul in the Euroleague last season.
On Friday, Maccabi Haifa crushed Ironi Nahariya 84-63 in their first game of the season at Romema Arena. The encounter was delayed until Friday due to Haifa’s NBA tour and the hosts looked sharp, opening a quick double- digit lead and never looking back. Haifa led 25-13 after 10 minutes, with the gap mushrooming to 18 points (48-30) by the break, allowing the Greens to cruise in the second half.
Rene Rougeau led five Haifa players in double figures with 18 points, while Michael Umeh scored 16 for Nahariya.
On Sunday, Maccabi Tel Aviv aims to bounce back from its 31-point defeat in the Euroleague to CSKA Moscow when it visits Bnei Herzliya, while Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Maccabi Rishon Lezion.
On Monday, Haifa travels to Hapoel Eilat and Maccabi Kiryat Gat welcomes Ironi Ness Ziona. Nahariya visits Maccabi Ashdod on Tuesday.
Jerusalem moves to 2-0 with easy BSL win over Holon Hapoel Jerusalem forward Donta Smith had 14 points in last night’s 89-73 win over Hapoel Holon at the Jerusalem Arena. (Danny Maron) Maccabi Tel Aviv survived a scare to claim a 2-1 win at Maccabi Petah Tikva on Saturday night and extend its lead at the top of the Premier League standings to four points.
Eran Zahavi scored the winner from the penalty spot in the 80th minute, his sixth goal in seven league matches, and the three-time reigning champion held on for a third straight victory despite having to play with 10 men and winger Tal Ben-Haim in goal from the 87th minute.
Maccabi goalkeeper Lior Lifshitz was sent off for a foul on Oz Peretz, and with Tel Aviv running out of substitutions, Ben- Haim was sent to play in goal and even made one save to help secure the win.
Carlos Garcia had given Tel Aviv the lead in the 20th minute, with Guy Melamed equalizing 10 minutes later.
“It was a complicated game for us,” said Tel Aviv coach Slavisa Jokanovic, whose team visits Porto in Champions League action on Tuesday. “We played better in the second half, but we didn’t score goals and in the end we made strange mistakes.”
After opening the season with four consecutive wins to seize control of first place, Petah Tikva dropped to its third straight loss on Saturday. Nevertheless, Petah Tikva coach Ran Ben-Shimon insisted he was pleased with his side’s play and blasted referee Orel Greenfeld for failing to spot an Eitan Tibi handball in the box in the 69th minute which should have resulted in a Petah Tikva penalty.
“I’m not disappointed with my team,” said Ben-Shimon, who added that he will probably receive a 10-year ban should he reveal what he really thinks of Greenfeld.
“This was a very tight match and neither team dominated. I’m proud of my team.”
Hapoel Tel Aviv suffered its heaviest home defeat in 22 years on Saturday, losing 4-0 to Bnei Sakhnin at Bloomfield Stadium. Hapoel lost goalkeeper Ram Strauss to a red card after just seven minutes following his foul on Weeam Amasha, who stepped up to slot in the penalty. Shlomi Azulay made it 2-0 after 25 minutes before Ali Osman (71) and Tzahi Elihen (76) completed the rout.
“We will learn a lot from this match and are already looking ahead to next weekend,” said Walid Badir, who continues to coach Hapoel on an interim basis.
The last time Hapoel lost at home by such a scoreline was in November 1993, with Beitar Jerusalem thrashing the Reds at Bloomfield.
Hapoel is hoping to bring back coach Eli Gutman, who left his position with the Israel national team last week following its failure in Euro 2016 qualification.
Hapoel Ra’anana climbed to third place on Saturday, beating Hapoel Acre 1-0 through Barak Badash’s 52nd-minute winner. Ra’anana has picked up 10 of a possible 12 points on the road this season.
Hapoel Kfar Saba registered its second victory of the season on Saturday, defeating Maccabi Netanya 1-0 away from home. Ran Itzhak netted the winner in the 16th minute before being sent off seven minutes into the second half. Netanya couldn’t make the most of its oneman advantage and lost Amaya Taga to a red card in the 85th minute.
Also Saturday, Bnei Yehuda beat Hapoel Haifa 1-0 thanks to Pedro Galvan’s goal in the 68th minute.
Ironi Kiryat Shmona hosts Maccabi Haifa on Sunday, with Beitar Jerusalem to play Hapoel Beersheba at Teddy Stadium on Monday.
Maccabi TA strengthens hold on first place Zahavi penalty gives 10-man yellow-and-blue victory over Mac PT; Sakhnin thrashes Hap TA 4-0 Maccabi Tel Aviv players celebrate with Carlos Garcia (right) after he scored the opener in last night’s 2-1 win at Maccabi Petah Tikva. (Adi Avishai) • By ALLON SIN AI • By allon sinai On TV: Bnei Herzliya vs Maccabi Tel Aviv (live on Channel 1 at 9 p.m.)