hapoel jerusalem 298.88.
(photo credit: www.hapoel.co.il)
Hapoel Jerusalem defeated Maccabi Givat Shmuel 95-79 in the BSL Matchday 22 finale at Malha on Monday night to set up a showdown with perennial champion Maccabi Tel Aviv for first place.
Jerusalem improved to 16-3, like Tel Aviv, which retains first place due to its victory earlier in the season in Jerusalem. The two teams meet on Thursday at Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv in a game that was postponed from earlier in the season.
The winner host the fourth meeting between the two on Sunday night. Maccabi also topped Hapoel in the State Cup final.
Last place Givat Shmuel fell to 4-16, three games behind ninth place Ironi Ramat Gan in the last spot above the relegation zone.
Mario Austin and Roger Mason Jr. scored 20 apiece to pace Jerusalem in a game that the visiting team never had a chance to win. The start of the game was delayed by 45 minutes after the Givat Shmuel bus was stuck in traffic for nearly three hours. It didn't arrive until 20 minutes before the 8 p.m. scheduled tip-off time.
Once the game got underway, it looked as if some visiting players hardly showed up.
Jay Straight led all scorers with 27, while Amit Tamir started and scored 18 in his first game in the capital since leaving Jerusalem to play at the University of California-Berkeley five years ago. Tamir, who started the season with Greek club AEK Athens, joined Givat Shmuel two weeks ago.
Jerusalem outscored Givat Shmuel 46-32 in the paint and 29-16 in points from the bench.
Mason and Austin combined for Jerusalem's first 17 points as Hapoel pulled away early. The lead was in double figures (23-12) after just seven minutes and increased to 46-27 in the third on a pair of Tamar Slay three-pointers.
Jerusalem held a 53-32 advantage at halftime.
Givat Shmuel scored the first seven points of the second half in an attempt to make a game of it, but Jerusalem quickly regained composure and seized control for good.
Ido Kozikaro added 13 points and Slay 10 for Hapoel, while Horace Jenkins added nine points and five assists.
Wayne Wallace and Timmy Bowers scored 10 each in defeat.