Hap J’lem topples yellow-and-blue

Reds shock tired Mac TA at Nokia with impressive 14-point victory to take over first place.

Hapoel Jerusalem vs. Maccabi Tel Aviv 311 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Jerusalem vs. Maccabi Tel Aviv 311
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
The day Hapoel Jerusalem fans have been waiting for since 1990 finally arrived on Sunday.
Jerusalem ended a 21-year drought at Nokia Arena, stunning Maccabi Tel Aviv 78-64 for its first league win on the road against the yellow-and-blue since October 1, 1990.
Jerusalem handed Maccabi its heaviest home defeat ever in local league play 21 years ago, thrashing Tel Aviv 89-66, and although Sunday’s win wasn’t of such proportions, it will still be a massive boost for Hapoel after its rocky start to the season.
“This is an important win,” coach Oded Katash said. “We didn’t play well in the first period, but we implemented our game plan after that and got into the game. To win in Nokia is an achievement, but we need to settle down quickly because we are facing a very important game against Cibona Zagreb in the Eurocup on Tuesday.”
Playing for the third time in four days clearly took its toll on Maccabi, which claimed tight Euroleague and Adriatic League victories on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
However, Tel Aviv couldn’t make it three wins in four days, struggling especially on offense with its tired legs and without Jordan Farmar.
“We didn’t show the energies we usually play with,” said Maccabi coach David Blatt after his team fell to its first league loss of the season.
“Jerusalem played smartly and was certainly more ready for the game than we were.”
Yuval Naimi led Jerusalem with 23 points, with Brian Randle adding 16 points and eight rebounds and Elishay Kadir contributing 10 points and 10 boards.
Richard Hendrix scored 15 points for Maccabi, which shot 37 percent (19 of 51) from twopoint range.
Both teams got the game off to a slow start, but Maccabi was in front 18-12 after 10 minutes.
Five quick points to start the second period gave the hosts a 23-12 lead and it seemed only a matter of time until Jerusalem’s resistance would be broken.
However, Jerusalem’s 8-0 run got it right back into the game and the visitors outscored Maccabi 27-15 in the second quarter, ending the half with a 12-2 run, to take a 39-33 advantage into the break.
A Naimi three-point play to begin the second half increased the gap to nine points and Kadir’s basket soon after extended the margin to double- figures (47-36).
Maccabi fans were expecting their team to mount a comeback, but three games in four days was just too much for the yellow-and-blue, which came no closer than six points and dropped to a painful defeat.
Also Sunday, Hapoel Gilboa/Galiil claimed its third straight BSL victory, beating BC Habika’a 75-67.
Gilboa pulled ahead in the third quarter and easily held on for another win.
Romeo Travis had 24 points and seven rebounds for Hapoel, which was playing without Courtney Fells, who flew to the US on Saturday following his brother’s death in a car accident.
Paul Delaney scored 26 points for Habika’a, which also got 19 points and 11 rebounds from Rashaun Freeman.
Maccabi Haifa recorded a dramatic 86-85 overtime win at Maccabi Ashdod on Sunday thanks to Sean Williams’ block at the buzzer.
Avi Ben-Shimol’s three-pointer with 24 seconds remaining in the extra period put Haifa in the lead and its American center denied Josh Duncan as time expired to secure the victory.
Sylven Landesberg had 24 points for Haifa, with Williams adding 20 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks.
Duncan led five Ashdod players in double-figures with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Barak Netanya is still looking for its first win of the season, falling to 0-5 on the season with a 98-75 home loss to Hapoel Holon.
Ron Lewis had 27 points for the winners, which outscored Netanya 29-18 in the first quarter and never looked back.
Adrian Banks scored 16 points for Netanya, which can at least console itself in the knowledge that no team will be relegated from the BSL this season.
On Monday, Ironi Ashkelon can return to the top of the standings with a win over Maccabi Rishon Lezion.