Hapoel Jerusalem scored the first nine points of the second half to take the lead for good on the way to a 93-87 nail-biting win on the road at Maccabi Rishon in the final game of BSL Matchday 2.
Despite a Jerusalem double-digit lead, the hosts never gave up and with 1:28 remaining, a Moran Roth three-pointer brought Rishon to within 85-82. After a Horace Jenkins miss on the other end, Or Eitan launched a three that could have tied it, but missed.
The final minute was dominated by free throws, with Jenkins missing one and Roth netting two to trim the gap to two points. However, after Eitan and Meir Tapiro each made theirs, Rishon's young point guard John Gilchrist missed one with 18.5 tics remaining. Tapiro swished two more on the other end and when Lee Mathews missed a three on the next possession, Hapoel was able to start celebrating its first win of the season.
Last week Jerusalem, which spent unprecedented amounts of money over the summer to build a team that it hopes can challenge Maccabi Tel Aviv for the title, was stunned at home by Elitzur Ashkelon.
Roger Mason Jr. led all players with 25 points, while Jenkins added 18 and Mario Austin 16 points and seven rebounds. Team captain Tapiro finished with 14 points and six assists.
Roth and Eitan had 17 apiece for Rishon, followed by Gilchrist and Mathews with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Rishon shot well throughout the game, making 12-of-21 (57.1%) three-point attempts. That helped the orange-clad side to a 47-45 lead at halftime, but it wasn't enough in the closing minutes.
Next week Jerusalem will host rival Hapoel Tel Aviv at Malcha, while Rishon heads out to take on Euroleague champion Maccabi Tel Aviv.