Jerusalem back on top with Herzliya conquest

Mediocre performance good enough for defending champion to improve to 9-2.

Hapoel Jerusalem guard E.J. Rowland (center) (photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Jerusalem guard E.J. Rowland (center)
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Jerusalem returned to the summit of the BSL standings on Sunday, eking out an 81-75 victory at Bnei Herzliya to improve to a league-best 9-2 record.
The game was decided in the final two minutes, with Jerusalem maintaining its composure the better of the two teams to claim its fifth straight league win.
“I didn’t feel comfortable when we arrived here and we played without energy,” said Jerusalem coach Danny Franco, whose team faces a crucial Eurocup clash at Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd in Russia on Wednesday.
“We need to arrive at every game with energy and make sure we dominate.”
D’or Fischer had 20 points and 10 rebounds for Jerusalem, with Lior Eliyahu adding 18 points.
James Singleton netted 16 points for Herzliya, which fell to 6-5.
Hapoel Eilat snapped a threegame losing streak on Sunday with an 88-79 win over Ironi Ness Ziona, improving to 4-7.
Ness Ziona led throughout the first half, but was ahead by just two points (47-45) at the break.
A 10-2 run in the third quarter put Eilat in pole position (65-54) and the hosts maintained control until the final buzzer.
Alade Aminu had 22 points and nine rebounds for Eilat, with Khalif Wyatt adding 21 points.
Fuquan Edwin scored 26 points for Ness Ziona, which fell to 3-8.
Maccabi Kiryat Gat won for the first time in six games on Sunday, improving to 3-8 with a 97-77 win over Hapoel Holon.
A 20-4 surge in the third quarter opened a 22-point gap (68-46) which Holon never came close to erasing.
Paul Delaney led six Kiryat Gat players in double figures with 22 points. Mike Moser had 21 points and 11 boards for Holon, which dropped to 3-7.
On Monday, Maccabi Ashdod visits Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Maccabi Tel Aviv in the first derby of the season.
Hapoel improved to 4-6 last week with a 78-63 victory over Holon, with Israeli guard Raviv Limonad returning from injury and American swingman Tre Simmons making his debut.
Hapoel coach Sharon Avrahami is expecting Maccabi to be in top form despite the fact the yellowand- blue already has one eye on Thursday’s decisive Euroleague game in Istanbul against Darussafaka.
“Obviously they are already thinking about Thursday’s game, but they are well aware of the importance of this showdown and are not entering it like any other game,” said Avrahami.
“We need to be very aggressive because otherwise they will win by 40 points. Maccabi has looked excellent in its past few games, but if we defend properly we will be alright.”
Maccabi has won three straight games over all competitions, including twice in Euroleague action to keep alive its hopes of reaching the Top 16. Following Darussafaka’s (4-5) 94-66 loss at CSKA Moscow (8-1) on Friday, the yellow-and-blue can advance to the next round by beating the Turks by at least 11 points. Any other result will send Maccabi to the Eurocup Last 32.
“I’m only thinking of the derby which is a very important game for the club,” said Maccabi coach Zan Tabak.