Jerusalem nips Hapoel Tel Aviv in down-to-the-wire contest

Two accurate Donta Smith free throws with 3.9 seconds to play ensured Hapoel Jerusalem claimed a win in its first-ever BSL game at its new arena.

Hapoel Jerusalem’s Bracey Wright (photo credit: ODED KARNI/BSL)
Hapoel Jerusalem’s Bracey Wright
(photo credit: ODED KARNI/BSL)
Two accurate Donta Smith free throws with 3.9 seconds to play ensured Hapoel Jerusalem claimed a win in its first-ever BSL game at its new arena on Sunday night, beating Hapoel Tel Aviv 81-80.
After triumphing in its first two league encounters by an average 19.5 points per game, Jerusalem was forced to dig deep on Sunday before improving to 3-0 to start the season for the first time since the 2004/05 campaign.
The tight game ultimately came down to the final seconds, with Raviv Limonad giving the visitors the lead with 9.2 seconds to play.
However, anunnecessaryMatan Naor foul on Smith allowed him to clinch the win from the line, with last season’s MVP finishing the game with 23 points, 10 assists and six rebounds. Bracey Wright added 13 points for Jerusalem, with Limonad leading Tel Aviv with 20 points and 12 assists.
Maccabi Tel Aviv will hope to join Jerusalem at 3-0 on Monday when it visits Hapoel Eilat. The yellow-and-blue will be playing its third game in five days after beating Limoges of France in its Euroleague opener on Thursday before steamrolling Hapoel Holon in BSL action on Saturday.
Maccabi visits CSKA Moscow in the Euroleague on Thursday.
Also Monday, Ironi Ness Ziona hosts Maccabi Ashdod and Ironi Nahariya welcomes Hapoel Gilboa/ Galil.
Elsewhere, Maccabi Haifa was trounced for a second straight night in its pre-season NBA tour, losing 91-59 to the Sacramento Kings on Saturday.
After giving the Washington Wizards a run for their money and ultimately only falling by six points, Haifa has lost its past two games by an average 39.5 points.
Demontez Stitt led Haifa with 17 points, while DeMarcus Cousins had 15 points and 12 boards for the Kings. Omri Casspi contributed seven points and seven boards for the hosts.
Haifa will complete its fourth NBA tour in five years when it faces the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.
Gal Mekel shined for the Dallas Mavericks in a 98-93 defeat to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday, finishing with 19 points and nine assists in 43 minutes. With speculation swirling around his future with the Mavs, Mekel made the most of his opportunity on Saturday, with Dallas’s three senior points guards Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris and Raymond Felton all out of action.
While he received high praise from Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, the 25-year-old Israeli could soon find himself on another team, with the Mavs desperate to free up space on their packed roster.
“I’m respecting everybody, but I’m not afraid of anyone, I’m coming to compete,” said Mekel, who has two years left on his contract, but at a minimum salary.
“We have great guys on our team and we have a lot of depth, but my job is to come and play hard every day in practice and games, and I’m happy that so far I’m having a good preseason.”