Hoops: Hapoel Jerusalem falls to Rishon in fifth straight loss

There was little fight, defense,or anything, from Hapoel, even though Rishon clearly was not a class act

Hapoel Jerusalem 248.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger [file])
Hapoel Jerusalem 248.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger [file])
Hapoel Jerusalem coach Dan Shamir left the Malha Arena court on Tuesday night to cries from the home supporters calling for him to quit, following a diabolical 82-75 defeat to Maccabi Rishon Lezion in the BSL. The loss could prove crucial in Jerusalem's attempts to reach the Israeli BSL Final Four tournament at the end of the season. With five games to go in the regular season, Hapoel, is languishing in seventh position in the league standings, just a point behind fourth-placed Ironi Nahariya. But the players know they have been well off the pace in recent games, losing the last five straight in the league. Hapoel's Jamie Arnold led all scorers with 27 points, but he was unable to prevent an embarrassing loss to the bottom ranked team in the league. Omar Sneed (19 points), Oded Shaashua (15) and Brandon Kurtz (17) all scored double figures for the visitors, who took advantage of Jerusalem's poor defensive play. Speaking at a post game press conference, Shamir looked dishevelled and disenchanted. "As a team we are looking for the right path," Shamir said. "There is a lot of frustration here, in the crowd and with us too, but this is the situation we are in." The game itself was a tight encounter in the opening minutes with the visitors taking an early three-point lead through Cedric Banks's triple which put Rishon 7-4 up. But it wasn't long before Hapoel came back to 10-9. An Arnold jumper with four minutes left in the first quarter gave Jerusalem an 18-11 lead. But the hosts were not able to stay ahead, and with 43.8 seconds left in the period Kurtz tied the scores at 20-20 from the free throw line. For the remainder of the half, Kurtz was everywhere for Rishon, and Sharon Sasson was missing three-point shots left, right and center for the hosts. With 3:40 until halftime the score was 36-28 to rishon and Shamir called a time out. But still the hosts found it difficult to make any inroads while letting Rishon walk all over them in defense. Oded Shaashua gave the team in orange a 10-point lead (38-28) and his three -pointer made it 43-31 with a minute and a half left of the half. At half time the Jerusalem team went off to boos, losing 46-33 after a mass of mixups under the hoops. As the second half began the game resembled more of a circus than a professional sports event with players coming almost meters from scoring and falling all over the place. There was little fight, defense,or anything, from Hapoel, even though Rishon clearly was not a class act. Suddenly a steal from Orland resulting in a three-pointer cut the lead from ten to five (74-69) and a glint of hope went around the arena with a couple of minutes to go. Curry missed a three pointer which bounced off the rim but Sasson scored the rebound and the hosts were only three points down (74-71). Finally Hapoel started playing defense, and with just 2.21 on the clock Arnold wrestled the ball away from Sneed to keep possession. Arnold scored two free throws with a minute to go and Rishon was leading by one (76-75). But Shaashua scored a three and the lead was five with 10.6 on the clock (80-75), a gap which proved unasaillable.