hapoel jm 298.88.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Jerusalem secured its 12th straight BSL win with an 86-82 victory over Maccabi Rishon Lezion on Tuesday night.
"I guess we like to win close games," said a relieved Meir Tapiro, Hapoel Jerusalem's captain. "We had a big lead in the third period, but Rishon played an excellent final quarter and almost forced overtime.
"But I'm glad we managed to keep our cool in the final seconds. There is still room for improvement in our game."
At Gan Nahum, Jerusalem coach Dan Shamir welcomed back Dror Hajaj to his starting lineup after recovering from a nagging leg injury.
Rishon played a high percentage game in the opening minutes as Brandon Kurtz dominated the paint and allowed Jerusalem to take a 29-27 lead at the end of the first period.
Then, Jerusalem switched to their trademark zone defense and forced Rishon to take tougher shots from the perimeter. The tactical move worked, and Hapoel translated Rishon's turnovers into easy layups in transition.
The halftime buzzer sounded with the visitors ahead 50-44.
Jerusalem dominated the opening stages of the third quarter, but the hosts kept the game alive thanks to Bryant Markson, who finished with 26 points.
Rishon produced an impressive comeback in the final minutes and even took a 79-78 lead, but Hapoel fought back for the victory.
Timmy Bowers played an important role for Jerusalem and finished with 13 points, six rebounds and five assists. Jurica Golemac fouled out midway into the final period, but still managed 15 points and seven assists.
Mario Austin scored 19 points and also handed out four assists. Erez Markovitch came off the bench to contribute 10 points and six rebounds.
Hap Galil Elyon-Golan 112, Ironi Ashkelon 86
Oded Katash and Galil Elyon welcomed back Omri Caspi, who spent the last week at the "Nike Hoops Challenge" in Memphis, Tennessee.
The hosts had no problem controlling the flow of the game and raced away to a quick 31-17 lead after the first period.
The one-sided game continued in the second quarter and Galil went into halftime leading 58-37.
Marcus Hatten produced five steals for Ashkelon and tried to create a comeback, but his efforts were inadequate and Galil cruised to victory.
Hatten had a solid outing, with 23 points, three rebounds and four assists, but his effort was wasted as only two other Ashkelon players scored in double figures.
Chester Simmons led the way for Galil Elyon. The explosive swingman produced another spectacular display on the offensive end and finished with 22 points, including four three pointers.
Kenny Adeleke was unstoppable under the boards as he scored 22 points and also grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.