Local hoops: Cota saves Hapoel J'lem with buzzer-beater

Last second shot lifts Jerusalem to 97-96 victory over Maccabi Givat Shmuel in a thriller at Malha Arena.

Hapoel JM 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Hapoel JM 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Ed Cota's buzzer-beater lifted Hapoel Jerusalem to a 97-96 victory over Maccabi Givat Shmuel in a thriller at Malha Arena on Sunday night. Hapoel remains in fourth place in the standings, but closes the gap on Nahariya and Bnei Hasharon, who both lost their Matchday 5 games. "We only won thanks to some random plays," Jerusalem coach Dan Shamir said after the game. "We scored 97 points, but we didn't play well on defense. We have a lot of reasons not to be pleased and hopefully our weaknesses will disappear with time." Hapoel was led by Mario Austin, who scored 26 points, and by Meir Tapiro, who had 16 points and 12 assists. Jay Straight scored 25 for Givat Shmuel, but only five in the second half, with Tunji Awujobi adding 19 points against his former team. After the visitors went into the locker room at halftime with a three-point lead (47-44), Hapoel opened up a 10-point advantage in the third quarter. However, the hosts were unable to maintain their lead and the game remained tight as the teams traded baskets at the end. The draw for the State Cup quarterfinals took place at halftime of the game in Jerusalem. Maccabi Tel Aviv 87,Ironi Nahariya 73 Maccabi Tel Aviv ended Ironi Nahariya's perfect start to the season at Nokia Arena. Nikola Vujcic almost recorded his second triple-double in four days after recording 16 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Derrick Sharp was the hosts' leading scorer with 17 points. Nahariya led 45-44 at halftime, but a third-quarter run by Maccabi gave it a lead it didn't relinquish to maintain its unbeaten start to the BSL season. Hapoel Afula/Gilboa 87, Galil-Golan 86 A Michael Johnson three-pointer with two seconds remaining gave Hapoel Afula/Gilboa the narrow win over Galil-Golan at Kfar Blum. Afula/Gilboa controlled the game and led at one point by as many as 11 points, but a late surge by Galil almost cost the visitors the game. Elitzur Ashkelon 81,Bnei Hasharon 79 Elitzur Ashkelon won its second straight game by surprising Bnei Hasharon. Bnei Hasharon sharp shooter Lee Nailon was held to five points. State Cup quarterfinal draw (first leg of two-legged ties to be played January 7; second leg one week later): Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Ironi Nahariya; Bnei Hasharon vs Hapoel Afula/Gilboa; Hapoel Yokne'am/Megiddo vs Ironi Ramat Gan, Maccabi Givat Shmuel vs Hapoel Jerusalem.