Hapoel Tel Aviv claimed its first win in the BSL after six years on Sunday night
and it couldn’t have been much sweeter.
The fan-owned club, which was
promoted to the top flight last season, suffered an overtime defeat to Bnei
Herzliya in its opener last week, but recorded an 84-77 win over bitter rival
Hapoel Jerusalem last night to get off the mark at Malha Arena.
Aviv run at the start of the fourth quarter decided the game and Jerusalem
dropped to a 0-2 start, piling the pressure on coach Sharon Drucker just a week
into the season.
Also Sunday, Maccabi Haifa thrashed Hapoel Gilboa/Galil
90-66, Maccabi Rishon Lezion beat Hapoel Eilat 101-90 and Hapoel Holon cruised
to an 84-62 win over Maccabi Ashdod.
A very tight first half at Malha
ended in a 39-39 stalemate and it seemed inevitable that the game would be
decided in the final 10 minutes.
Jonathan Skjoldebrand’s threepointer
gave Tel Aviv a five-point advantage (61-56) entering the fourth quarter and the
visitors began the period with a crucial 7-0 run capped by a Demontez Stitt
Despite having plenty of time to mount a comeback, Jerusalem came
no closer than six points, with Gal Eitan’s three with 1:41 remaining
reestablishing a double-digit margin (81-71) and effectively clinching the
“You should never underestimate us,” said emotional Tel Aviv coach
“This is Hapoel Tel Aviv. We played without an injured
foreign player and another one of our foreigners got into foul trouble, but a
team is measured by its heart not by its budget.”
Stitt had 20 points for
Tel Aviv, with Skjoldebrand scoring 17 for Edelstein’s team, which was
outrebounded 42-25 but recorded 14 steals.
Craig Smith led Jerusalem with
21 points and 11 rebounds, but Sharon Drucker’s men shot themselves in the foot
by committing 23 turnovers.
“Whenever we had a chance to make a run we
made a mistake and lost the momentum,” Drucker said.
“We have opened the
season with two defeats and we now need to claim a win any way
“This is a tough and tight league and we don’t have an
advantage against any team.
“If we don’t execute like a team we will not
get to where we aspire to be.”
At Romema, Haifa ended the first period
with a 7-0 run, opening a 22-15 lead.
The hosts increased the gap to
doubledigits (38-26) after an Ido Kozikaro basket midway through the second
quarter, but Gilboa closed to within six points (43-37) by the
Gilboa’s challenge would not last for much longer however, with a
16-2 run giving Haifa a comfortable 59-41 margin, ensuring the Greens sailed to
the win in the final frame.
Donta Smith was Haifa’s top scorer with 21
points while also passing eight assists, but the performance of the night was
registered by Pat Calathes. The Greek forward had 15 points, 20 rebounds and
seven assists, with Paul Stoll also scoring 15 for the winners.
played a better second half and we got out on the open court and got some easy
buckets,” said Haifa coach Brad Greenberg.
“They didn’t shoot well in the
second half and that gave us a chance to run a bit.
“We also forced a
couple of turnovers and that gave us the momentum.”
Kenny Hayes netted 19
points for Gilboa, which has gotten the season off to a nightmare start, losing
its first two games by an average 20 points.
Ashdod was one of the BSL’s
more impressive teams in the preseason, but it dropped to its second straight
defeat on Sunday, being outplayed in Holon.
A Sean Daniel three-pointer
gave the hosts a double-figure lead (27-15) after 10 minutes and the second half
was garbage time after Holon extended the gap to 43-23 by the
Jerome Dyson scored 23 points for Holon, with Frank Hassell
adding 12 points and 19 boards.
Diamon Simpson had 16 points and nine
rebounds for Ashdod.
Rishon Lezion became the first team to begin the
season 2-0, effectively clinching the win with an 11-0 run to start the second
Julian Wright’s basket to end the half extended the gap
to 25 points (54-39) and the lead never dropped below eight points in the second
Adrian Uter led six Rishon players in double-digits with 23 points
and 12 rebounds, with Wright also posting a double-double, contributing 16
points and 11 boards.
Jerome Tillman led Eilat with 25 points.
Monday, Ironi Ashkelon welcomes Maccabi Tel Aviv and Herzliya faces Barak