Local Basketball: Bnei Hasharon edges Rishon Lezion

Juan Mendez scores 22 points for Rishon, which has now lost five of its first seven league games.

Bnei Hasharon 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Bnei Hasharon 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Bnei Hasharon claimed its third straight league win and maintained its perfect home record on Sunday night, defeating Maccabi Rishon Lezion 77-72 in Ra'anana. Jason Williams led the hosts, scoring 21 points, with Ndudi Ebi and Meir Tapiro adding 13 and 11 points respectively. Juan Mendez scored 22 points for Rishon, which has now lost five of its first seven league games. "The game wasn't easy because Rishon is a very good team with wonderful players," Bnei Hasharon coach Efi Birenboim said. "We showed our character tonight and that's just as important as the win." Also Sunday, Ironi Nahariya and Ironi Ashkelon both claimed comfortable road victories, defeating Hapoel Afula/Gilboa and Ironi Ramat Gan respectively. Bnei Hasharon 77, Maccabi Rishon Lezion 72 Jerel Blassingame's eighth points gave Rishon an early 10-3 lead, but Tapiro's alley-oop pass to Ebi brought the hosts back within two points (10-8). Maccabi regained a seven point advantage towards the end of the period (19-12) and was ahead 19-16 after 10 minutes. Jason Williams's basket four minutes into the second quarter gave the hosts their first lead of the period (27-26) and the score would remain tight for the remainder of the half. Tapiro's basket with six minutes remaining in the game opened a 67-62 lead, but five straight points by Cedric Banks tied the score once more (69-69). Bnei Hasharon would, however, score the next four points of the encounter to clinch the win. Hapoel Afula/Gilboa 70, Ironi Nahariya 84 Nahariya led 21-16 at the end of the first period and opened a 14 point margin (34-20) in the second quarter, thanks to a 10-0 run. The hosts ate away at the deficit as the period progressed and were trailing by a mere three points at the break (41-38). Nahariya had no intention of letting its lead slip away and after extending its advantage to 12 points (66-54) by the end of the third period, cruised to an easy win. Otis Hill scored 17 points for Nahariya, with Adrian Pledger and Sasa Ocokoljic adding 14 and 13 points, respectively. Ironi Ramat Gan 77, Ironi Ashkelon 86 Ramat Gan scored the first six points of the game and Ori Itzhaki's three-pointer gave the hosts a double-digit lead (16-6). Ashkelon closed within one point (18-17), but the hosts held on to their lead and were in front by four points (21-17) after 10 minutes. The visitors completed a comeback in the third quarter and led 68-57 with 10 minutes to play. Ramat Gan managed to close within four points of Ashkelon in the fourth period (72-68), but it would come up short and the visitors claimed the important win. Phil Goss scored 17 points for Ashkelon, with Shmolik Brener leading Ramat Gan with the same amount.