Local Hoops: Galil Elyon sends Netanya packing

National League side stuns BSL opponent while Hap J’lem advances with 57-point win.

Hapoel's Matan Naor 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Hapoel's Matan Naor 311
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Hapoel Galil Elyon of the National League recorded the first upset of the new basketball season when it edged Barak Netanya 76-74 in the State Cup round of 32 on Tuesday, while Hapoel Tel Aviv survived a scare at Maccabi Kiryat Gat and Hapoel Jerusalem trounced Maccabi Hod Hasharon on its way to the last 16.
Galil Elyon was established after the original team by that name moved away from Kfar Blum to play in Gan Ner in 2007 and was renamed as Hapoel Gilboa Galil.
The new Galil Elyon only gained promotion to the second division a couple of weeks ago due to the financial struggles of other clubs and recorded the biggest result in its short history on Tuesday with the win over Netanya.
There was very little to separate the teams throughout the game and two free-throws by Lawrence Westbrook with 17 seconds to play ultimately decided the encounter.
Gary Johnson led Galil with 22 points and 16 rebounds, while Marco Killingsworth had 22 points for Netanya.
Kiryat Gat held the lead against Hapoel Tel Aviv for much of Tuesday’s game and it forced overtime after Will Harris hit a buzzer-beating jumper to tie the score at 80-80.
However, the newly-promoted Tel Aviv scored eight of the extra period’s first 10 points to secure its progress with a 96-89 victory.
Demontez Stitt had 19 points for Tel Aviv, with Matan Naor scoring 18.
Harris was the star of the game, ending the night with 33 points.
Hapoel Jerusalem had no such troubles in Hod Hasharon, crushing the poor hosts 96-39.
Sharon Drucker’s team held a 12-point cushion (23-11) after the first period and clinched the win by outscoring Hod Hasharon 33-7 in the second quarter on the way to a 56-18 halftime gap.
Elishay Kadir led five Jerusalem players in double figures with 19 points and 15 boards. Bobby Walker was Hod Hasharon’s only player to reach double digits, scoring 10 points.
“Our guys were serious from the start,” said Drucker. “We finished the game off quickly and that allowed me to play the young players. Now the real deal begins – the league.”
Jerusalem, which visits Maccabi Tel Aviv in its first BSL game on Sunday night, also discovered on Tuesday the identity of its opponents in the Eurocup regular season.
Hapoel was drawn into Group A and will face CEZ Nymburk of the Czech Republic, coached by Israeli Neno Ginzburg, Budivelnik Kiev and BC Prienai of Lithuania.
The Eurocup regular season will run from November 7 to December 12, with each team playing six games and the top two advancing to the Last 16.
“We were handed a group without any big-named teams, but these are still strong sides,” said Drucker, with Jerusalem failing to progress past the regular season in the last two seasons. “All four teams will battle for a place in the next round and we will have to be at our best in each of the six games.”
In other State Cup action on Tuesday, Maccabi Ashdod continued its excellent form from the preseason with an 85-72 win at Elitzur Yavne.
Diamon Simpson had 23 points and 14 rebounds for Ashdod.
Hapoel Gilboa Galil thrashed Ironi Kiryat Ata 89-47 behind 15 points each for Kenny Hayes and Rakim Sanders, while Bnei Herzliya beat Ironi Ness Ziona 78-67 with Romel Beck scoring 26 points for the winners.
In three all National League ties: Hapoel Kfar Saba 75, Elitzur Ramle 67; Maccabi Be’er Ya’akov 103, Maccabi Kiryat Bialik 81; Ironi Nahariya 86, Ironi Ramat Gan 78. The final round of 32 encounter between Hapoel Kiryat Tivon and Maccabi Haifa will take place on November 1.
Six teams advanced automatically to the round of 16, last season’s four semifinalists (Maccabi Tel Aviv, Maccabi Rishon Lezion, Hapoel Holon and Hapoel Eilat) and Ironi Ashkelon and Hapoel Afula, who received a bye in the draw.