Hap J’lem humbled at home by Holon

Hapoel Holon playmaker Moran Rot led his team with 18 points and six assists in its stunning 86-80 win over Hapoel Jerusalem at Malha Arena last night.

Moran Rot 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Moran Rot 311
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Hapoel Jerusalem has fallen to its fair share of embarrassing defeats this season, but none were quite as belittling as Monday night’s 86-80 BSL loss to Hapoel Holon at Malha Arena.
Facing financial meltdown, Holon released Americans Robert Hite and Eric Campbell in recent days and may very well have to part ways with coach Danny Franco and several other star players in the coming week.
However, the visitors surged into a significant lead right from the start of Monday’s game and maintained it until the final whistle, holding off a late Jerusalem comeback.
With all the recent roster cuts, Franco used just seven players in his rotation until the final minute, playing youth forward Niv Solomon in the closing stages after three of his players had fouled out.
But despite all its difficulties, Holon somehow pulled out the win against a painfully poor Jerusalem team.
“No one can understand what we have been through in the past week,” said Holon playmaker Moran Rot, who led his team with 18 points and six assists, orchestrating his side’s play to perfection.
“This win is against all the rules. This is what makes basketball such a beautiful game. There is something in the soul of this team that never dies.”
Rich Melzer and Kasib Powell added 15 points each for Holon, which has won two straight games.
Will Solomon had 29 points and 10 rebounds for Jerusalem, which lost its second successive contest to continue its dismal season.
Holon got off to a flying start, with a Melzer basket opening an early doubledigit margin (15-4).
Hapoel looked completely lost, especially on the offensive end, scoring just six points in the first seven minutes of the game.
Two more points by Melzer opened a 20-6 margin with just under three minutes to play in the first quarter and Holon had a surprising 26-11 lead after 10 minutes following Nir Cohen’s tip-in.
With so few players at his disposal, Franco was forced to use subs he rarely called upon earlier this season, but they didn’t disappoint.
Ido Stolero, who had scored a total of three points in 29 minutes on court so far this season, was given his chance and his three-pointer extended the margin to 34-15.
A Powell basket gave the visitors a record 21-point cushion (42-21) and Holon had a comfortable 18-point lead (47-29) at the break.
Jerusalem began the second half with a 9-2 run, capped by a Dion Dowell triple, to close on Holon.
But Nir Cohen stemmed the tide with two points off his own missed free-throw and the visitors were still in control with 10 minutes to play, leading 61-52.
A Solomon three to start the fourth frame gave the local fans some hope and the hosts soon closed to within one possession (63-60).
However, Holon never panicked and Amit Ben-David’s triple opened a 73-64 advantage before Stolero clinched the win with another basket from beyond the arc with two minutes to play (80-68).
On Tuesday, Barak Netanya hosts Tzvika Sherf’s Spartak St. Petersburg in Group I of the EuroChallenge, while Maccabi Haifa visits Lukoil Academic Sofia in Bulgaria.