Rishon edges Jerusalem in Balkan League

Strong final frame boosts Goodes’s club over Reds • Holon advances by disposing Hapoel Tel Aviv.

NIMROD TISHMAN (30) and Maccabi Rishon Lezion were too strong for Tamir Blatt and Hapoel Jerusalem on Sunday night, pulling out a 79-73 Balkan League win.  (photo credit: BERNEY ARDOV)
NIMROD TISHMAN (30) and Maccabi Rishon Lezion were too strong for Tamir Blatt and Hapoel Jerusalem on Sunday night, pulling out a 79-73 Balkan League win.
(photo credit: BERNEY ARDOV)
Maccabi Rishon Lezion moved onto the semifinals of the Balkan League Israel group stage by defeating Hapoel Jerusalem 79-73 on Sunday night and ruining new coach Dainius Adomaitis’s debut.
Hapoel Holon also punched their ticket to the next round of the competition with a 77-66 win over Hapoel Tel Aviv. Rishon will play Hapoel Gilboa/Galil on Wednesday night for the right to join Holon as the second Israeli team in the second group stage.
That part of the competition will be comprised of four out of six teams that will advance from the current round-robin group featuring BC Akademik Plovdiv and BC Beroe from Bulgaria, KK Teodo and KK Ibar Rozaje of Montenegro, KK TFT and KK Kumanovo 2009 from Macedonia plus the two Israeli teams.
The six clubs will then be split into two groups of three teams, where four games will be played in total. The top four teams will then advance to a Final Four, which is slated to be played in the spring.
Rishon Lezion used a mammoth fourth quarter, outscoring Jerusalem 29-11 in the final frame, as Guy Goodes’s squad couldn’t miss down the stretch while its defense stifled the Reds’ potent offense to snatch the comeback win.
Darryl Monroe scored 16 points, going an efficient 7-of-9 from the field, Akil Mitchell added 14 points and 12 rebounds, Noam Dovrat chipped in with 13 points and Trey Lewis scored 11 points in the win.
Adi Cohen Saban and Jamil Wilson led Jerusalem with 13 points apiece and Suleiman Braimoh scored 12 points in the defeat.
“It’s hard to explain what happened in the fourth quarter,” said a pleased Goodes. “We didn’t play well at all in the first half and the ball didn’t move and we played with no pace. But then Jerusalem missed its shots and we started making ours and made the right plays while being aggressive to take the win.”
Adomaitis expressed his disappointment following his club’s defeat.
“One quarter decided the game and I don’t like that because you have to play your best basketball in the fourth quarter. Our energy went down, we had foul trouble and rotation trouble. Our shots weren’t going in and our decisions on offense weren’t good. Rishon scored 29 points in the last quarter and every minute our energy one defense was going down.”
Jerusalem raced out to a quick 12-5 lead thanks to wide open triples by Tamir Blatt and Wilson while Rishon countered with baskets from Golan Gutt and Dovrat early on in the first quarter.
Buckets by Monroe and Mitchell along with a three-pointer from Gutt helped the visitors pull to within two points, but long-distance specials from Chris Kramer and Cohen Saban and a three-point play from Idan Zalmanson gave the Reds a 24-19 advantage after 10 minutes.
Briamoh began the second quarter with a jumper, Kramer scored a layup off a fast-break but Monroe and Mitchell scored back-to-back baskets in the paint to keep the score within reach at 28-23 in favor of Adomaitis’s squad.
Kramer went from downtown, Briamoh nailed one from midrange and J’Covan Brown from deep for Jerusalem as Monroe, Ido Flaisher and Trey Lewis tried to keep Goodes’s team in the game but a huge Tashawn Thomas dunk near the end of the first half to give the Reds a 44-32 lead.
Gutt drilled a triple but Braimoh, Thomas and Brown all got busy with points for Jerusalem to bump up the lead to 53-37 midway through the third quarter. Dovrat hit a jumper at the end of the shot clock, Flaisher scored in the paint but Cohen Saban and Wilson nailed three-pointers for Jerusalem to keep the 12-point advantage (62-50) after 30 minutes.
Dovrat, Mitchell and Nimrod Tishman cut the Jerusalem lead to nothing at 62-62 with 5:08 remaining in the fourth quarter as Rishon ran off a 12-0 run and held the hosts scoreless.
But Thomas and Braimoh scored in the paint while Cohen Saban went for a corner triple to put the Reds up 69-64.
Lewis wouldn’t give up as he scored from downtown, Mitchell found points inside as did Monroe and Dovrat to shock Jerusalem with the six-point conquest to earn a trip to the semifinals against Gilboa/Galil.
Elsewhere, Holon downed a game Hapoel Tel Aviv by 11 points to advance.
Stefanos Dedas’s squad used a strong defensive effort in the second half as it outscored the TA Reds 47-31 over the final 20 minutes to take the comfortable victory.
In a well-balanced scoring affair, Chris Johnson led the way with 13 points, Isaiah Miles scored 12 points, while Maxim De Zeeuw and Tyrus McGee added 10 points apiece for Holon in the win.
Tel Aviv newcomer Tyrique Jones continued to impress with 25 points and 10 rebounds, Yam Madar scored 15 points while Bar Timor chipped in with 12 points in the defeat.