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Hapoel Jerusalem has failed to rebound from last week's loss to Maccabi Tel Aviv. After failing to impress at Nokia Arena, Hapoel suffered a shock defeat at the hands of the struggling Ironi Ashkelon, 111-89, Monday night at Jerusalem's Malha Arena.
The game featured one of the most lop-sided first halves in BSL history, as Ashkelon scored 52 points in the second period. Jerusalem failed to turn the tide in the second half.
"We are going through a rough period," Jerusalem coach Dan Shamir said after the humiliating setback. "Our performances in the last two games have been catastrophic and I hope we'll get our act together as soon as possible. I am not looking for culprits. We have to improve as a team, which is my responsibility."
Hapoel played solid team basketball in the opening minutes, leading 27-19 at the end of the first period. Hapoel made the most of Ashkelon's soft play under the baskets. But the crowd was in for a surprise.
Markus Haten stepped up his game in the second period and powered Ashkelon back into the game. Jerusalem lost its cool, with referee Sami Bahar ejecting Jurica Golemac for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Ashkelon kept draining uncontested shots and raced to a 71-42 halftime lead.
The reds double-teamed Haten in the third quarter and limited his production, which helped them cut the deficit. But Ashkelon used the clock cleverly, opting for percentage basketball, and had a 89-68 lead at the start of the final period.
Jerusalem kept gaining lost ground in the final minutes of the encounter, but 37 points from Haten proved to be too much and Ashkelon held on. DeMarko Johnson and Ricardo Marsh contributed 17 points each.
Maccabi Tel Aviv 95,
Bnei Hasharon 80
At Hayovel Herzliya, defending champion Maccabi Tel Aviv showed up without Tal Burstein. The defensive specialist reinjured his leg in the team's practice session and was excluded from the game squad. Simas Jasaitis replaced him in Neven Spahija's starting lineup.
Bnei Hasharon played tough zone defense from the tip-off, which forced Maccabi to take tough shots and commit numerous turnovers. The tactical adjustments paid off, as Effi Birenboim's team forced a 49-44 halftime score, with numerous Maccabi players in foul trouble.
Maccabi took control in the second half, as Bnei Hasharon failed to impress with its short rotation. Tel Aviv took a double-digit lead midway into the final period, with Birenboim pulling out his starters in the final minutes.
Will Bynum led Maccabi with 21 points, six assists, three rebounds and two steals. Yotam Halperin played a solid role in the victory with 13 points and seven rebounds. Nicola Vujcic played only 23 minutes but had 10 points and seven rebounds.