Jerusalem rolling in Europe and domestically

Ness Ziona shocks Maccabi Tel Aviv • Hapoel Haifa holds off Holon • Beersheba tops Hap TA

 SCOTTIE WILBEKIN (left) scored 19 points for Maccabi Tel Aviv, but the yellow-and-blue was tripped up by Golan Gutt (right) and Ness Ziona in an 87-73 upset. (photo credit: Kobi Eliyahu)
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN (left) scored 19 points for Maccabi Tel Aviv, but the yellow-and-blue was tripped up by Golan Gutt (right) and Ness Ziona in an 87-73 upset.
(photo credit: Kobi Eliyahu)

Hapoel Jerusalem kept its Champions League hopes alive and well by downing Pinar Karsiyaka 85-65 on Monday night to win its second straight continental clash.

The victory helped the Reds leapfrog their Turkish foe in Group B play and they will have a chance to punch their ticket to the second round when they face Manresa in Spain in two weeks.

In Turkey, the Reds dominated the hosts the entire 40 minutes going 16-for-29 (55%) from beyond the three-point arc to go along with strong play from Retin Obasohan, Jalen Adams and an all-around solid performance on both ends of the floor by Yotam Halperin’s entire squad.

Obasohan led the way with 22 points, Adams added 21 points, Adam Ariel chipped in with 11 points and Sean Kilpatrick scored 10 points in the win. James Blackman and Amath M’Baye scored 12 points apiece for the hosts in defeat.

“It’s not about me, but the team,” said Obasohan, the game’s MVP. “We knew that this was a big game for both of us and I am really proud as to how we competed with tremendous heart and care to take the win.”

HAPOEL JERUSALEM center Idan Zalmanson drives on Hapoel Gilboa/Galil’s Benyahu Srur during Jerusalem's 99-94 home victory this week (credit: DOV HALICKMAN PHOTOGRAPHY)HAPOEL JERUSALEM center Idan Zalmanson drives on Hapoel Gilboa/Galil’s Benyahu Srur during Jerusalem's 99-94 home victory this week (credit: DOV HALICKMAN PHOTOGRAPHY)

Halperin also reflected on his team’s impressive effort.

“We had a lot of ups and downs in this game and we played against a good team and good coach,” said Halperin. “It’s not me but the players did an excellent job today. When the game was on the line and the fans were into it and they controlled everything, we did an excellent job.”

Meanwhile, in Israeli domestic league action, Ness Ziona stunned slumping Maccabi Tel Aviv 87-73 as Lior Lubin’s squad took the game right to the defending champion as five players finished in double digits to take the surprise victory.

The yellow-and-blue came out strong, led by Scottie Wilbekin, to take a slim 22-20 lead after 10 minutes, but the hosts put the pedal to the metal in the second quarter as Frank Bartley and Golan Gutt – who nailed a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer – helped Ness Ziona take a 46-39 lead into the break.

Tim Soares and Diante Garrett held Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s team to just 12 points in the third quarter as Ness Ziona put the clamps on Maccabi’s offense, while Bartley continued to lead the way en route to the 14-point win.

“We came in with good energy and we made sure to be focused on turnovers, offensive rebounds and other places where we were not allowing cheap points,” Lubin explained. “We prepared for Maccabi for a while and we are continuing with the mindset that we had from before the international break.”

Sfairopoulos spoke about the game from his point of view.

“I want to congratulate Ness Ziona,” began the Tel Aviv coach. “They played better than us and they fought harder than us and they deserved to win the game. We were not ready mentally, we allowed a lot of offensive rebounds in the first half and in the second half we had many turnovers and they scored easy points in transition.”

Elsewhere, Hapoel Haifa surprised Hapoel Holon 83-76 as the Carmel Reds played shut down defense over the final 20 minutes to take the hard-earned victory.

Kadeem Allen was red hot all game and scored 22 points to lead the way for Haifa, Amit Simhon added 14 points, Will Rayman scored 13 points while James Dickey chipped in with eight points and 12 rebounds in his debut. Steven Gray scored 21 points and Joe Ragland added 20 points for Holon in the loss.

“We won by the skin of our teeth,” said Haifa coach Elad Hasin, who was ejected late in the game due to his second technical foul.

“The players worked so hard this week and this was a win for the entire club. Kadeem has a huge heart, but it was a team effort.”

In the capital, Hapoel Jerusalem eased by Hapoel Eilat 80-64 as the Reds played tough defense from the get-go to secure the victory in inspirational leader Suleiman Braimoh’s return to the club.

Halperin’s charges set the tone early and held the Red Sea city squad to only eight points over the opening 10 minutes to cruise to the win.

Adams led the way with 16 points, Obasohan added 14 points and Kilpatrick chipped in with 11 points, while Braimoh scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds in the win.

Bryon Allen paced Ariel Beit Halachmi’s team with 21 points, Roi Huber added 11 points and Romello White scored 10 points in the loss.

“Su knows the organization and the system, so it won’t be an issue for him to get back into the swing of things,” Halperin explained following the game. “One needs to understand that it will take him a bit of time because he wasn’t playing on a consistent basis, but everyone knows how dominant he can be in the league.”

Down south, Hapoel Beersheba defeated Hapoel Tel Aviv 88-82 as the Southern Reds won the first game of the post-Rami Hadar era to move back to .500 with  4-4 record on the season.

After a very even first half, the hosts broke it open in the third quarter as Cody Demps scored from deep while Amit Suss was dominant as well to hand interim coach Roy Lichtenberg his first win as the club waits for its new bench boss – Cypriot Christoforos Livadiotis – to take over.

Demps led the way with 24 points, Suss added 15 points and Junior Etou scored 14 points in the win. J’Covan Brown led Tel Aviv with 27 points, Idan Zalmanson added 18 points and Gil Beni scored 11 points in the loss.

“Obviously we felt something was missing as Rami Hadar is a great leader,” said Demps following the game. “But I think this win is a testament to the character of this team. Everyone stepped up.”

Up in the Galilee, Hapoel Galil Elyon dominated Bnei Herzliya 90-74 as the hosts took control of the game early on with a 31-12 first quarter to cruise to the win.

Nimrod Levi led all scorers with 26 points, Bryce Washington added 16 points and Chavaughn Lewis chipped in with 13 points in the win. Sandy Cohen paced Herzliya with 12 points while Shawn Dawson scored 11 points in the defeat.

Also, Hapoel Gilboa/Galil overcame a feisty Maccabi Rishon Lezion 100-94 as the visiting Galilee squad needed a big second half to erase a nine-point deficit after 20 minutes to record the win.

Sacha Killeya-Jones led the way with 27 points and Or Cornelius scored 20 points in the win. Tu Holloway had 30 points while Kris Clyburn added 29 points in the loss.

Cornelius, who set his career high in scoring, spoke about how things turned around for Gilboa during the final 20 minutes.

“We went into halftime feeling that we could do a lot more and we knew that the minute we would put it all on the court defensively, our offense would come alive. I felt that when they would fine me, everything would fall into place and I am happy that this was the case.”