Local Hoops: Afula/Gilboa stuns Hapoel Jerusalem

Maccabi Givat Shmuel gets crushed by Maccabi Tel Aviv, 69-110.

maccabi ta 298.99 (photo credit: AP)
maccabi ta 298.99
(photo credit: AP)
Hapoel Afula/Gilboa officially secured another season in the BSL with a brilliant team effort in an 88-77 victory over second-place Hapoel Jerusalem Thursday night. Jerusalem entered the game as the clear favorite, but a spirited performance by former Malha favorite Tunji Awojobi was enough for Afula/Gilboa to secure the much-needed win. With Ironi Ashkelon and Givat Shmuel doing little to break out of the relegation zone, Afula salvaged its domestic season. "A very poor defensive performance," Jerusalem coach Dan Shamir said after the shocking loss. "My players were not focused. We lacked the intensity on defense. "There is no excuse for this terrible loss. This game was very important for them and we were unable fight back. All I can do now is to congratulate [Afula/Gilboa]." Also Thursday night, defending champion Maccabi Tel Aviv, without injured big man Nikola Vujcic, thrashed Maccabi Givat Shmuel 110-69. With only two games left in the regular season, Givat Shmuel is in last place with only 32 points. Afula put in a gallant effort in the opening minutes, knowing a win would keep it out of the relegation zone. Danny Franko's team played a tough, half-court defense during a 7-2 run. A key three-pointer by Dror Hajaj gave Jerusalem a 25-20 lead entering the second period. Jerusalem's Jurica Golemac found himself in foul trouble, which forced Shamir to put in reserve Terrence Morris. The move didn't help Jerusalem, as Afula dominated the boards and took control of the game. Afula kept punishing Jerusalem on its way to a 55-48 lead at the break. Afula fed off its 2,000 passionate fans and took control. Awojobi got a dose of revenge against his former team with brilliant play in the post, including some mesmerizing assists. Jerusalem tried to retaliate with a barrage of three-pointers, but Afula made sure that it got the win. Awojobi finished with 19 points, five rebounds and six assists, forward Jermaine Hall helped out with 16 points, Yehu Orland drilled four three-pointers en route to 16 valuable points and Rich Melzer contributed 14 points and eight boards. Maccabi Givat Shmuel 69 Maccabi Tel Aviv 110 At Or Yehuda, only about 500 fans were on hand as the last-place team took on the defending champion, hoping to salvage its season. Despite having a slim chance of pulling off the upset, the first half was closely contested, but Tel Aviv managed to grab a 42-33 lead at halftime. Tel Aviv coach Neven Spahija decided to open the game with Yaniv Green, following his 21-point performance against Hapoel Galil Elyon-Golan. But Tel Aviv was forced to deal with a physical zone defense that didn't allow easy looks at the basket. However, all changed in the second half. Tel Aviv's Will Bynum started dictating the tempo in the third quarter as the visitors pulled away. Spahija's team led by no less than 30 points at the start of the final period and many reserve players got a chance to play. Jamie Arnold finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Yotam Halperin was particularly effective and contributed 19 points and six assists. Seldom-used Noel Felix produced a season-high 15 points and eight rebounds.