Local Hoops: Bnei Hasharon wins its fifth straight

Bnei Hasharon recorded its fifth straight BSL victory on Monday, defeating Maccabi Rishon Lezion 69-59 in Ra'anana. The Sharon team showed yet again on Monday why it's the best defensive side in the league, holding Rishon to just 36 percent from the field (20 of 56). The visitors had no answer to the suffocating defense and fell to a fourth straight defeat, which further complicates their situation at the bottom of the standings. Meir Tapiro led Bnei Hasharon with 16 points and seven rebounds, with the fit again Cookie Belcher and Ousmane Cisse each adding 14 points. Oded Sha'ashoa scored 16 points for Maccabi, with Jerel Blassingame adding 15 points. After a tight first period ended in a 20-17 Bnei Hasharon advantage, the hosts managed to open a double-digit lead at the start of the second quarter thanks to a Belcher basket (31-21). The visitors closed to within a point (34-33) at the break, but Effi Birenboim's men were the more composed in the closing stages of the third period and took a 57-49 lead into the final 10 minutes of the game. A Blassingame three-pointer cut the gap to 61-58 midway through the quarter, but the hosts held on to their lead and notched up yet another win on their way to the Final Four. The win was important but the upcoming week is even more significant. Next weekend Bnei Hasharon faces Maccabi Tel Aviv, hoping to beat the perrenial champion for the third time this season.