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Bnei Hasharon avenged its humiliating loss in last season's State Cup final on Sunday, defeating Hapoel Jerusalem 83-68 in Ra'anana.
The Sharon club was thrashed by Jerusalem last season, but dominated its opponents on Sunday and cruised to an easy win. A 21-2 Bnei Hasharon run during the first and second periods gave the team a lead it wouldn't relinquish against an apathetic Jerusalem side.
Maccabi Tel Aviv's 103-80 win over Hapoel Galil Elyon on Sunday was overshadowed by a knee injury sustained by Nikola Vujcic. The Croatian center slipped and crashed to the court two-and-a-half minutes to the end of the game.
"My only concern at the moment is Vujcic's health. He's hurting and he said it doesn't feel good," said Maccabi coach Oded Katash, who will face David Blatt's Efes Pilsen in the Euroleague on Thursday. "I'm worried. We can't afford to lose Vujcic in our current state. I hope he only suffered minor damage."
Also on Sunday, Ironi Nahariya and Hapoel Afula/Gilboa claimed road wins, defeating Maccabi Rishon Lezion and Ironi Ashkelon, respectively.
On Monday, Hapoel Holon, which defeated Galil by 22 points in the first week of the season, hosts Ironi Ramat Gan in its first home game since gaining promotion to the BSL. Bnei Hasharon 83, Hapoel Jerusalem 68 Will Blalock's three-pointer three minutes into the game gave the visitors a 12-6 lead and two more points by the American guard midway through the first period opened a nine-point margin (18-9).
Jason Williams' successful freethrows midway through the quarter capped a 21-2 run for the hosts and Meir Tapiro's jumper soon after opened a 46-33 lead.
Hapoel scored the last four points of the first half (46-37) and came within seven points after Guy Pnini opened the second half with two points.
The hosts, however, quickly surged ahead and opened a 10point margin (62-52) ahead of the final quarter.
Jerusalem failed to mount a comeback and the hosts remained in front to claim an easy win.
Belcher and Williams led the hosts with 17 points each, with Ousmane Cisse and Tapiro, who was playing against his former team, scoring 15 and 14 points, respectively. Ndudi Ebi only managed eight points on Sunday, but his 16 rebounds were crucial in his side's win. Maccabi Tel Aviv 103, Hapoel Galil Elyon 80 Maccabi opened the game with a 13-2 run from which Galil never managed to recover. Lior Eliyahu scored eight of his 19 points during his team's early run and also grabbed eight rebounds during his 21 minutes on court. Esteban Batista scored 13 points and took nine rebounds for Maccabi, which will be sweating over the fitness of Vujcic ahead of its Euroleague game against Efes Pilsen.
Clif Brown scored 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for the visitors, which were down by 19 points (38-19) after just 10 minutes. Maccabi Rishon Lezion 75,
Ironi Nahariya 79 Nahariya rebounded from its disappointing defeat to Maccabi Tel Aviv last week with an important road win over Rishon.
The game remained tight throughout the first half, with the visitors taking a 37-34 lead into the interval. Nahariya held the hosts to just nine points in the third period and opened a 57-43 advantage with 10 minutes to play. Maccabi, which has now lost two straight home games, clawed its way back in the fourth quarter and forward Yoni Nir tied the score at 66-66 three minutes to the end of the encounter.
Ironi Ashkelon 80, Hapoel Afula/Gilboa 87 The visitors opened an early lead and were up by nine points (25-16) after 10 minutes. Cory Carr's excellent shooting (20 points) cut Ashkelon's deficit to five points (48-43) at the break, but Afula/Gilboa went on an 8-0 run early in the second half and opened an unassailable 65-52 lead.