Basketball: Hapoel Jerusalem in crisis mode after Nahariya loss

Hapoel stunned by Northerners in the capital, suffering 3rd straight setback overall.

Hapoel Tel Aviv’v Raviv Limonad (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Hapoel Tel Aviv’v Raviv Limonad
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
After winning nine straight BSL games to start the season, Hapoel Jerusalem dropped to its second consecutive league defeat on Sunday night, suffering a humbling 87-84 home loss to Ironi Nahariya following an embarrassing capitulation.
Jerusalem looked to be cruising to another local win and to a 10-1 record when it opened a 24-point gap in the second quarter (53-39).
However, a 27-0 Nahariya run over nine minutes at the end of the third period and the start of the fourth turned the game on its head (75-69). Jerusalem bounced back to regain the lead (82-81), but it was Nahariya which held its composure the better of the two teams in the closing stages, and claimed just its third victory of the season to improve to 3-9.
“We felt the game was already ours,” admitted Jerusalem coach Danny Franco, whose team was officially knocked out of Europe last week after falling to 2-7 in the Eurocup. “The players took the European exit personally and we tried to lift them.
We will overcome this as a team and this will make us stronger.”
Nahariya center Robert Rothbart was sensational, finishing with 25 points and 13 rebounds, including his first three-pointer of the season with 35 seconds to play, which opened an 86-82 advantage from which Jerusalem could not return.
“It was amazing, I can’t describe it,” said Rothbart. “Everything just flowed in the second half and I was surprised we held on.”
Mark Lyons added 17 points for Nahariya, which shot 26-of-45 (58%) from two-point range. Bracey Wright had 27 points for Jerusalem, which was outscored 51-27 in the second half.
Hapoel Tel Aviv (7-5) notched its fourth win in five games on Sunday, defeating Hapoel Eilat (5-7) 88-79 at Hadar Yosef Arena.
An 11-2 Tel Aviv run midway through the fourth frame secured the win for the hosts, who moved up to third place.
Durand Scott had 17 points for the winners, with Raviv Limonad adding 16 points. Adrian Uter had 20 points and 10 rebounds for Eilat, which lost for the first time in four games.
Maccabi Haifa’s slump continued on Sunday with a fifth defeat in the past six games. Maccabi Ashdod (3-9) edged Haifa (4-8) 80-79 thanks to James Nunnally’s free throws with 10 seconds to play.
Dagan Yavzuri had a chance to win the game for Haifa, but his shot was long, and Ashdod won for a second straight week for the first time this season.
Ivan Aska led Ashdod with 24 points, while Yavzuri finished with 27 points for Haifa.
Also Sunday, Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (5-7) beat Hapoel Holon (6-5) 74-72 in Gan Ner.
Alex Young scored the winning basket for the hosts, with Tony Crocker missing a chance to give Holon the victory at the buzzer.
Oded Brandwein led Gilboa with 19 points, while Crocker had 15 points for Holon.
On Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv (9-2) can return to first place with a win over Ironi Ness Ziona (7-4). Since losing two games in a row to Jerusalem and Hapoel Tel Aviv, the yellow-and-blue has won five straight BSL games, triumphing in nine of 10 contests over all competitions after beating Cedevita Zagreb in Euroleague action on Thursday.
Also Monday, Maccabi Rishon Lezion (7-4) visits Bnei Herzliya (4-7).