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Hapoel Jerusalem center Amar’e Stoudemire goes up for a dunk during last night’s 68-56 win over Bnei Herzliya in the State Cup quarterfinals at the Jerusalem Arena..(Photo by: ADI AVISHAI)
J’lem first team into cup semis with win over Herzliya
The second cup semifinalist will be decided on Sunday.
Three days after suffering a humbling BSL defeat to Bnei Herzliya, Hapoel Jerusalem avenged the loss when it mattered most, claiming a 68-56 win at the Jerusalem Arena on Saturday night to advance to the State Cup semifinals.

Jerusalem fell to 6-6 in BSL action with a 94-73 drubbing in Herzliya on Wednesday. It was outscored 20-6 to start Saturday’s showdown, but replied by scoring 30 of the next 40 points, taking a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

Jerome Dyson and Curtis Jerrells had 18 points each for Hapoel, which claimed the win despite shooting 47 percent from two-point range (20-of- 42), 23 percent from beyond the arc (3-of-13) and 55 percent (19-34) from the free-throw line.

Amar’e Stoudemire added a double- double of 10 points and 13 rebounds.

“We were slightly hesitant in the first quarter but then we set our defense and played the way we wanted to,” said Jerusalem coach Simone Pianigiani. “We are at the end of December and we can say we are still in all the competitions. We are in the Top 16 in the Eurocup in the State Cup semifinals and won the preseason Winner Cup. But we have made an effort to achieve this and have lost too many games in the league.”

Hapoel, which last won the cup in 2008, begins the Eurocup Top 16 with a visit to Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius in Lithuania on Wednesday.

Jeff Adrien scored 17 points for Herzliya, which desperately missed Israeli forward Karam Mashour, who sprained his ankle in the win over Jerusalem.

The second cup semifinalist will be decided on Sunday when last season’s finalist Maccabi Ashdod visits Maccabi Haifa.

On Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv goes to Ironi Ness Ziona of the National League, while Hapoel Beersheba of the second division welcomes Hapoel Holon on Tuesday.

Maccabi Tel Aviv will be aiming to bounce back from its sixth consecutive defeat in the Euroleague, falling 101-88 at Baskonia Vitoria in Spain on Thursday.

Maccabi was guided in the Euroleague by its fourth different coach this season, but Latvian Ainars Bagatskis’s continental debut for the team didn’t go as planned.

Maccabi dropped to a 5-10 record at the midway point of the regular season, which leaves it in 14th place out of 16 teams.

Nevertheless, the yellow-andblue is still only two games back of eighth place, which leads to the playoffs.

“The first thing I said when I got to the locker room five days ago is that we have to control our emotions, always,” said Bagatskis, who hosts his former team Darussafaka in Euroleague action on Thursday.

“We need to play strong defense and if we don’t take that seriously, we are in trouble. We were weak in individual defense, transition defense and defensive rebounding. We had too many turnovers. We made simple mistakes.”
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