Eliyahu’s display strengthens J’lem’s hold on first place

Eliyahu is set to earn in the region of $1.5 million over the next three seasons.

Hapoel Jerusalem forward Lior Eliyahu (photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Jerusalem forward Lior Eliyahu
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Lior Eliyahu celebrated his new contract in style on Saturday night, finishing one assist shy of a triple-double to lead Hapoel Jerusalem to an 84-72 win over Maccabi Rishon Lezion at the Jerusalem Arena.
The 30-year-old forward signed a new three-year deal at Jerusalem on Thursday and had 12 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in Hapoel’s ninth win from its past 10 league games. Eliyahu is set to earn in the region of $1.5 million over the next three seasons.
“I couldn’t be happier to be remaining at Hapoel,” said Eliyahu, who joined Jerusalem in November 2013. “I will end my career here and that is amazing. In the past two-and-a-half years I connected with the fans and the club and I think everyone can see that on the floor.
I’m enjoying every moment here and I’m ready for the challenges facing us.
“I believe that last season’s historic championship is only the beginning.”
Rishon led 21-19 after a tight first quarter, but Jerusalem began the second period with a 10-0 run and never looked back. Hapoel outscored the visitors 25-11 in the quarter to lead 44-32 at the break and began the second half with an 18-4 surge (62-36) to clinch the win.
Matt Janning led Jerusalem with 18 points, with Tony Gaffney scoring 13 points before leaving with an injury.
Chris Wright had 17 points and 13 boards for Rishon, which fell to 9-7 after losing a fourth straight BSL game.
On Sunday, Maccabi Tel Aviv aims to close back within one game of Jerusalem when it visits Maccabi Ashdod. Tel Aviv suffered a defeat to Jerusalem in its most recent BSL game, but has since beaten both Olimpija Ljubljana and Nizhny Novgorod in Eurocup action while also overcoming Maccabi Haifa in dramatic fashion to advance to the State Cup semifinals.
New signing Gal Mekel was set to make his debut for the yellow-and-blue against Ashdod, but he will have to wait another week to do so as his previous team Red Star Belgrade is refusing to sign his release form due to a financial disagreement.
Also Sunday, Hapoel Holon (4-11) looks to register two consecutive league wins for the first time this season when it hosts fellow struggler Ironi Ness Ziona (5-10).
On Monday, Maccabi Kiryat Gat (4-11) hosts Ironi Nahariya (8-7), Bnei Herzliya (9-6) visits Maccabi Haifa (9-6) and Hapoel Tel Aviv (6-9) welcomes Hapoel Eilat (6-9).