Basketball: Hapoel Jerusalem loses third straight in BSL

The State Cup holder loses 81-78 to Hapoel Afula/Gilboa.

jp.services1 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Hapoel Jerusalem's crisis continued to deepen on Monday in Afula. The State Cup holder fell to its third straight league defeat, losing 81-78 to Hapoel Afula/Gilboa. Jerusalem remains in fourth position despite the loss, but is now only one point ahead of three different teams in the battle for a Final Four berth. Matters aren't likely to get any easier for Jerusalem as the team visits Maccabi Tel Aviv at the Nokia Arena next week. "This is one of the more difficult situations we've experienced in the last two seasons," Jerusalem coach Dan Shamir said. "People don't understand how difficult it is. We're doing all we can to get out of this hole, but it keeps getting deeper." Monday's win was Afula/Gilboa's third in its last four league game and could well prove crucial in the team's fight against relegation. Neither team led by more than four points in a tight first period and a Timmy Bowers buzzer beating jumper brought Jerusalem within two points (21-19) after 10 minutes. Amit Ben-David's three-pointer three minutes into the second quarter increased the hosts margin to 28-23, but two straight Sharon Sasson triple's and a Noel Felix dunk completed Jerusalem's comeback (38-37). The visitors maintained their lead until the interval (41-39) and baskets by Erez Markovitch and Jamie Arnold extended the margin to 49-41. Just when everything seemed to be going well for the State Cup holder the hosts went on a 7-0 run, which brought them within a point, and Hanan Colman's three soon after gave the Afula/Gilboa the lead once more (59-56). Jerusalem's apathy cost it dearly as Adam Hall found plenty of space in the dying seconds of the third period, scoring from beyond the arc to open a 68-62 gap with 10 minutes to play. A Sasson three to start the fourth period cut the deficit in half, but the visitors struggled on offense and would never retake the lead. A Lamont Jones circus shot increased Afula/Gilboa's gap to eight points (77-69) with just over three minutes to play, giving the hosts an unassailable lead. A Ramel Curry triple with 26 seconds remaining brought Jerusalem back within one possession (78-76) and Guy Pnini had a chance to tie the score with his three point attempt with four seconds to go. The Israeli forward's shot, however, went out off the rim and Afula held on for the big win.