J’lem, Mac TA claim confidence-boosting wins

Reigning champion beats Hap TA in capital, yellow-and-blue overcomes.

Hapoel Jerusalem forward Lior Eliyahu. (photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Jerusalem forward Lior Eliyahu.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Nahariya Hapoel Jerusalem released pressure with its first win in three weeks on Sunday night, beating Hapoel Tel Aviv 72-67 at the Jerusalem Arena to maintain its one-game lead over Maccabi Tel Aviv at the summit of the BSL standings.
Jerusalem entered the game on the back of three straight losses over all competitions and six defeats from its past seven games, increasing the heat on under-fire coach Danny Franco.
The reigning BSL champion didn’t impress on Sunday, but it did enough to return to winning ways and improve to 15-5. There was little to separate the teams for most of the night, but Jerusalem pulled ahead midway through the fourth quarter, and held on for a confidence-boosting victory.
Lior Eliyahu led Jerusalem with 23 points, with Raviv Limonad scoring 18 points for Tel Aviv, which fell to 8-12.
“We were in a bit of crisis and I hope it is behind us,” said Eliyhau. “We have a good team and everyone is working hard and this is a very important win.”
Maccabi built on its State Cup triumph with a 78-66 win over Ironi Nahariya at Yad Eliyahu Arena. Tel Aviv was playing without Devin Smith, who will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his knee on Monday and will be out of action for 3-4 weeks.
Nahariya opened an early double-digit gap (22-12), but Maccabi came right back and after three tight quarters, the yellow-and-blue clinched the win with a 12-0 run (76-59) in the fourth frame.
Sylven Landesberg led Maccabi with 26 points, while Richard Howell had 16 points for Nahariya.
“Our slow start was definitely a result of the cup and the tension accumulated recently,” said Maccabi coach Zan Tabak. “For us it was most important to win this game to build on the positives of the cup.”
On Monday, Haifa (12-7) visits Ironi Ness Ziona (7-12) and Bnei Herzliya (10-9) hosts Maccabi Kiryat Gat (6-13).
Cup finalist Maccabi Ashdod (9-10) returns to action when it hosts Maccabi Rishon Lezion (10-9) on Wednesday.
Rishon wins in Latvia
Maccabi Rishon Lezion can secure its progress to the Europe Cup quarterfinals next Sunday after taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three round of 16 quarterfinal series against Ventspils with a 75-73 win in Latvia on Sunday.
Rishon, Israel’s last remaining representative in continental competition, was led by Darryl Monroe, who finished with 29 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter, and Mark Lyons, who added 22 points.
Kristaps Janicenoks had 25 points for the hosts, with Maris Gulbis scoring 22 points.
Rishon hosts Game 2 next Sunday, with Game 3, should it be required, to be held in Lativa three days later.