Hapoel Jerusalem’s Donta Smith .
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Jerusalem remained the only perfect team in the BSL on Sunday night, defeating Ironi Ness Ziona 86-72 at the Jerusalem Arena despite a lethargic first half.
After brushing Maccabi Tel Aviv aside at Yad Eliyahu Arena last week, Jerusalem took time to find its rhythm as the firm favorite on Sunday, but it never looked out of control and a late run ensured it moved to 4-0.
Donta Smith led Jerusalem with 19 points, with Yotam Halperin and Bar Timor adding 18 and 16 points, respectively.
Jerusalem made it 13 straight league wins at home, with its last defeat in BSL action at the Jerusalem Arena coming back in March.
Diamon Simpson finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds for Ness Ziona, which fell to 1-3.
“We helped them back into the game, but when we defended aggressively it also helped us space the game,” said Jerusalem coach Danny Franco.
“We progressed in this game as well, but we still have plenty more to improve. We need to do a better job over more minutes and we have the tools to do so.”
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Maccabi Tel Aviv remained one game back of the league-leader after defeating Hapoel Holon 81-73.
After finally getting off the mark in the Euroleague with a victory over Sassari on Thursday, the last thing the yellow-and-blue wanted on Sunday was to lose all the momentum with a road defeat in Holon.
Maccabi certainly didn’t have it all its own way, only finally putting the game to bed in the closing stages.
Yogev Ohayon’s triple gave Maccabi a one-point edge (39-38) at the break and the visitors seized control after holding Holon to 12 points in the third frame. Maccabi led by as many as 18 points in the fourth period, but allowed Holon back within six points before finally putting the game to rest.
Sylven Landesberg led Tel Aviv with 21 points, while Jordan Farmar had 16 points.
Brian Randle finished with 15 points. Will Clyburn had 26 points for Holon.
In Jerusalem, Lior Eliyahu’s basket to end the first half gave the hosts their biggest lead of the night (40-34) until that stage. Hapoel surged ahead at the start of the second half, scoring eight of the first 12 points of the third period to establish a double-digit margin (48-38). Ness Ziona never lost hope and Fuquan Edwin three-pointer tied the score at 54-54, capping a 12-1 run.
There was still just a single point to separate the teams entering the final 10 minutes, but Jerusalem never trailed in fourth quarter and ended the game with a 14-4 push to claim its third double-digit win in four BSL games this season.
Maccabi Rishon Lezion lost its perfect record on Saturday night after suffering an 84-67 defeat to Bnei Herzliya.
On Monday, Maccabi Haifa visits Maccabi Kiryat Gat, Maccabi Ashdod hosts Hapoel Eilat and Hapoel Tel Aviv welcomes Ironi Nahariya.
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