(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
A Lior Eliyahu dunk with 2.5 seconds to play gave Hapoel Jerusalem an important 73-71 win in the BSL over Ironi Nahariya on Sunday night, while Maccabi Tel Aviv remained onegame back of the league-leader with a 100-94 victory over Maccabi Rishon Lezion.
After being knocked out of the Eurocup last week, and with its State Cup campaign already coming to an end in the round of 16 last month, Jerusalem’s entire focus has shifted to the BSL . Hapoel suffered its first defeat at the Jerusalem Arena in BSL action last week, falling at the hands of Maccabi Haifa, before dropping to its fifth loss in six games over all competitions with the Eurocup setback against Strasbourg.
It struggled for large periods on Sunday, still trailing by double- digits late in the third quarter.
However, it would eke out the win to improve to 14-4, giving the defending champion a much-needed confidence boost.
Maccabi Tel Aviv (13-5) trailed by a single point against Maccabi Rishon Lezion (10-8) after a tight first half at Yad Eliyahu Arena.
However, it surged ahead by outscoring the visitors 34-18 in the third quarter, taking a 15-point margin (78-63) into the final quarter.
Rishon cut the deficit to five points, but could come no closer.
Sylven Landesberg led six Tel Aviv players in double figures with 19 points, with Elijah Millsap scoring 12 points on his debut.
Mark Lyons had 29 points for Rishon.
Nahariya led by as many as 12 points (54-42) in the third quarter in Jerusalem, but Hapoel ended the frame with a 10-2 run and built on the momentum at the start of the fourth period, scoring eight straight points to move into the lead (60-56).
Nahariya’s Oded Brandwein tied the score at 71-71 with 7.4 seconds to play, but Eliyahu would score the go-ahead basket with 2.5 seconds remaining, inbounding the ball for Donta Smith who then found the Israeli forward under the basket for two easy points.
E.J. Rowland led Jerusalem with 18 points, while Eliyahu finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.
Michael Umeh had 27 points for Nahariya, which fell to 10-8 after losing for the first time in four games.