sports 19 jan.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Jerusalem needed a gallant effort in the dying minutes, but it came back to beat Ironi Nahariya 91-90 at Malha Arena in BSL Matchday 15 Sunday night.
Former Jerusalem star Ido Kozikaro was given a warm welcome during pregame introductions, but the atmosphere soon turned sour as Nahariya dominated.
Raviv Limonad connected twice from beyond the arc to give his club an early 14-7 lead. Limonad finished with 21 points for Nahariya.
With the Jerusalem guards struggling from the field, Ironi continued to play solid in attack and raced to a promising 50-42 halftime lead.
The reds failed to find an answer to the adamant visitors in the third period as well. Mario Austin played a strong game in the paint, but received very little help from his teammates. Hapoel's center finished the game with 26 points and six rebounds.
Nahariya took an 11-point lead into the fourth quarter, and appeared headed to victory.
Jerusalem coach Dan Shamir opted for a short lineup in the final minutes, hoping to step up the offense and earn more visits to the free-throw line.
Hapoel responded well to the move and went on a 11-0 run to wipe out Nahariya's lead.
Guy Pnini made an easy layup with four seconds to go and Nahariya could not pull out the away victory.
"It's a very disappointing loss," Nahariya coach Ariel Bet-Halahmi said. "I'm proud of my lads and have no complaints.
"We used all of our weapons, but Jerusalem's bench is much deeper than ours and it worked against us at the end.
"I have a lot to say about the game officials, but I won't say it now."
Maccabi Tel Aviv 101, Ironi Ramat Gan 87
Maccabi Tel Aviv maintained a perfect record in the BSL despite trailing Ironi Ramat Gan for the first three quarters. The defending league champions came out strong in the deciding minutes to register a victory at Nokia Arena that snapped Ramat Gan's three-game winning streak.
Neven Spahija decided to rest ailing Nikola Vujcic. The Croatian star was a late scratch due to his nagging injury. Yaniv Green started at center, just as he did in Maccabi's Euroleague win over Pau-Orthez on Thursday.
Simas Jasaitis found his groove in the opening minutes and scored five consecutive points for the yellow-and-blue, but Ramat Gan conjured a strong comeback. The visitors forced a 22-22 tie at the end of the first period and even took a 53-46 advantage into halftime.
Spahija decided to open the second half with an all-Israeli lineup. The gamble partially paid off, as Tel Aviv started playing tough zone defense and forced numerous turnovers. But Ramat Gan maintained a 72-68 lead entering the final period, thanks to three quick three-pointers by Derel Wilson, who finished with 22 points.
However, the defending champions' strong rotation proved to be too much for Ramat Gan at the end. Maccabi produced an offensive outburst in the fourth quarter, with all players knocking down uncontested shots.