Maccabi Haifa guard Gregory Vargas (left) drives past Hapoel Jerusalem’s Tarence Kinsey during last night’s 86-69 win at Romema Arena..
(photo credit: ERAN LUF)
The blows keep coming for Hapoel Jerusalem after it dropped to a humbling BSL loss at Maccabi Haifa on Sunday night, while Maccabi Tel Aviv built on the momentum from its State Cup triumph with a comfortable victory over Maccabi Kiryat Gat.
Three days after falling to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the cup final, leaving it without a cup title since 2008, Jerusalem dropped further behind the yellow-andblue in the BSL standings and lost two straight games for the first time in over two months following an 86-69 defeat in Haifa.
Jerusalem was brimming with confidence ahead of the cup final, winning 12 of 14 games over all competitions. But it enters Wednesday’s game at Hapoel Eilat in danger of suffering a third defeat in six days, and without Bar Timor, who aggravated his shoulder injury on Sunday, with Jerome Dyson also doubtful after missing the game in Haifa through injury.
Hapoel, which dropped to an 11-8 record, then goes to Maccabi Rishon Lezion on Saturday before turning its focus back to the Eurocup, hosting Gran Canaria in Game 1 of the bestof- three quarterfinal series next Tuesday and visiting Spain for Game 2 three days later.
Jerusalem looked lethargic from the tip-off on Sunday and trailed from start to finish. Haifa opened its first double-digit lead (17-7) following Oz Blayzer’s basket midway through the first quarter, but Jerusalem was down by just four points (40-36) at the break. The visitors lost Timor in the third period and Haifa never looked back after scoring 16 of the first 21 points of the second half to establish a 15-point gap (56-41).
Orlando Mendez-Valdez had 17 points for Haifa, with Blayzer scoring 16 and Amit Simhon netting 15 points.
Travis Peterson led Jerusalem with 14 points.
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Maccabi opened a three-anda- half game lead over Jerusalem after thrashing Kiryat Gat 103- 79. Tel Aviv picked up where it left off in the cup final, outscoring rock-bottom Kiryat Gat 23-7 in the first period and remaining in control until the final buzzer.
D.J. Seeley scored 23 points, with Devin Smith adding 20 for Maccabi, which improved to 14-4 to regain first place in the standings despite playing one game fewer than Hapoel Holon.
Maccabi finished with a BSL season- high of 19 three pointers, coming from just 32 attempts (59 percent).
“We came out focused. We didn’t want to have any letdowns after the cup,” said Smith. “Right now is a really good time and we are trying to build on it.”
Brandon Bowman had 20 points for Kiryat Gat, which lost for the 12th time in its past 13 games, falling to a 3-16 record.
Hapoel Holon continued to pay the price for its injury crisis, losing 81-66 at Hapoel Eilat, which registered its fifth straight win to improve to 11-8. Afik Nissim had 18 points for Eilat, with Darion Atkins scoring 21 for Holon, which fell to 13-6.
Elsewhere, Hapoel Tel Aviv improved 10-9 behind 35 points from Mark Lyons, defeating Ironi Nahariya 92-71. Nick Faust had 15 points for Nahariya, which fell to 8-11.
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