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Hapoel Jerusalem cruised into the second round of the State Cup with a 103-68 thrashing of Elitzur Netanya on Wednesday night at Malcha in the team's first appearance on its home court this season.
Jerusalem, which defeated Netanya by 25 in the first leg on Sunday, was among the biggest winners in the first round, together with fellow Super League side Ironi Ramat Gan, which trounced Maccabi Hod Hasharon 92-49 for an 82-point aggregate win.
Other teams that advanced Wednesday include Hapoel Lev Hasharon, which overcame a six-point deficit from the first leg to bounce Maccabi Ashdod 83-71, Hapoel Holon, which completed a sweep of Elitzur Ramle with a 81-74 win, and Hapoel Givatayim, which lost 81-77 to Elitzur Kiryat Ata, but won on aggregate thanks to an eight-point first leg win.
Two series will me made up next month. The eight teams that advance will be joined in the next round by last season's quarterfinalists.
Despite the orange ball bouncing from side to side at Malcha, the event seemed at times at times to be more of a pep rally than a competitive basketball game. Both the players and fans used the game to warm up for the real deal, which begins Sunday when Hapoel hosts Ashkelon for its BSL opener.
The fans used the 40 minutes to practice their repertoire of new songs, while the players adjusted to the fans, the hall and each other. It was clear even before the opening tip that some of the players didn't know what to expect as point guard Horace Jenkins nearly returned to the bench before the national anthem finished, only to catch his mistake and quickly step back into his place in line.
It tool Jerusalem a while to get going, but by the fourth quarter even its reserves were beating up on Netanya.
The visitors remained close for much of the first half, before a 7-0 Jerusalem run helped separate the teams 51-44 at the break.
Netanya bounced back scoring the first eight of the second half to retake the lead, but the hosts eventually wore down the second division side and ran off with the win.
The crowd finally got its thrills midway through the third quarter when Jenkins fed Tamar Slay behind the back on the break for a one-handed slam. The reds never dropped the pace, outscoring Netanya 28-7 in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Jenkins led five Jerusalem players in double figures with 18 points and seven assists, while Roger Mason Jr. displayed a fine shooting touch on his way to 17. All 13 Hapoel players that dressed scored.
Amit Ginsburg was the lone star for Netanya with 16 points and 10 assists.
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