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Hapoel Jerusalem opens season with State Cup rout
New signing Juan Mendez led the hosts with 25 points. Omri Caspi led Galil scorers with 15 points.
Dan Shamir got off to an ideal start at his new job as Hapoel Jerusalem coach on Sunday night, trouncing Maccabi Rishon Lezion 95-61 at Malha Arena in the first leg of the State Cup round of 16. Shamir, who was an assistant coach at Jerusalem and at Maccabi Tel Aviv before becoming the head coach at Malha, faces constant scrutiny at his new, high-pressure position, but Sunday's performance will surely buy the coach a few criticism-free days. The huge 34-point win virtually ensures Hapoel a place in the quarterfinals of the State Cup, with Maccabi now needing an extremely unlikely 35-point victory in the return leg for an aggregate victory. Matan Naor led all players with 20 points and was one of six Hapoel players to score in double figures. Hapoel took an early lead against Rishon, leading 14-4 after six minutes. The hosts didn't allow Maccabi to close the gap and the first period ended in a 21-11 Jerusalem lead. Hapoel continued to increase its lead in the second quarter and the team went into the interval with a 45-26 lead. Two consecutive three pointers by Naor increased his team's lead to 36 points against helpless Rishon and the third period ended with Jerusalem ahead 73-37. The visitors were unable to cut the margin in the fourth period and the game ended in a convincing Hapoel win. In Sunday's other all-BSL meeting, Ironi Nahariya defeated Hapoel Galil Elyon 89-74 and took an important step towards a place in the quarterfinals. Nahariya led at one point by as many as 24 points, but Galil ate away at the lead in the dying moments of the game to keep its chances of a quarterfinal berth alive. New signing Juan Mendez led the hosts with 25 points. Omri Caspi led Galil scorers with 15 points. The northern derby was a tight affair for the first quarter-and-a-half. However, a 15-4 run by Nahariya at the end of the first half gave the team a 45-34 halftime lead which it wouldn't relinquish the rest of the night. Galil managed to cut the deficit to seven points (65-58) by the end of the third quarter, but a 20-3 run by the hosts in the fourth period gave the team an 85-61 advantage. Hapoel's late surge cut the lead to 15 points and gave the team hope for the second leg. Also Sunday, it was: Yokne'am/Megiddo 105, Elitzur Kiryat Ata 103; Maccabi Givat Shmuel 79, Hapoel Upper Nazareth 66; Bnei Hasharon 68, Maccabi Hod Hasharon 49; Ironi Ramat Gan 81, Hapoel Givatayim 60; and Hapoel Afula/Gilboa 87, Hapoel Tel Aviv 69.
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