Hapoel Jerusalem forward Lior Eliyahu.
(photo credit: LIRON MOLDOVAN/BSL)
After two disastrous months, Hapoel Jerusalem is beginning to show signs that it is ready to break out of the slump, claiming a comfortable 89-71 win over Bnei Herzliya at the Jerusalem Arena on Sunday.
Jerusalem registered a club record nine consecutive wins to start the season before losing six of its past seven games, including a 20-point humbling defeat at the hands of Maccabi Tel Aviv last week.
However, it thrashed Hapoel Gilboa/Galil by 30 points the previous week and had little trouble brushing Herzliya aside on Sunday to improve to 11-6, which is still good enough for second place in the standings.
Yotam Halperin was superb for Jerusalem, scoring a season-high 24 points, hitting 9-of-10 field goal attempts, including four three-pointers.
Bracey Wright added 23 points and seven assists for Jerusalem, which led by 15 points at the break (43-28) and secured the win in the final 10 minutes, after allowing Herzliya within five points in the third period.
Josh Selby finished with 20 points for Herzliya, which fell to 6-11.
On Monday, Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Maccabi Tel Aviv in the first derby at the Arik Einstein Arena.
Hapoel recorded its largest-ever win over Maccabi two months ago, claiming a 78-58 victory at Yad Eliyahu Arena. The defeat to Hapoel was the low point of the yellow-and-blue’s season to date, with Maccabi since winning 20 of 22 games over all competitions, including 10 consecutive BSL games to seize control of first place with a 14-2 record.
Maccabi center Alex Tyus is a doubt for Monday’s game due to a leg injury, while Hapoel coach Oded Katash will have a full roster at his disposal.
Raviv Limonad recovered from an ankle sprain while Durand Scott returned from the US on Sunday after attending the funeral of a close friend.
“Besides the fact that this is a very important league game, we know what this game means to our fans, especially as it is the first derby in our new home,” said Katash, whose team has won three straight BSL games and seven of nine contests to improve to 10-6.
Maccabi survived a mighty scare to defeat Hapoel 73-71 to reach the semifinals of the State Cup last month, and coach Guy Goodes is confident his team will overcome the reds one way or another on Monday.
“Hapoel is a tough team and we know it is going to be an aggressive game,” said Goodes. “It will be a very interesting game in a tough environment, but our guys are ready for the challenge.”
Also Monday, Hapoel Eilat (7-9) hosts Maccabi Rishon Lezion (10-6), Maccabi Haifa (7-9) visits Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (5-11) and Ironi Nahariya (5-11) faces Maccabi Ashdod (3-13), which will be guided by new coach Tzvika Sherf for the first time.