Local Hoops: Galil Elyon/Gilboa hosts Hapoel J'lem for first place

Oded Katash's Galil enters the game on the heels of five consecutive victories.

Hapoel Jerusalem 224.88 (photo credit: Roi Levy [file])
Hapoel Jerusalem 224.88
(photo credit: Roi Levy [file])
The BSL's two most impressive teams this season battle for first place in the standings on Sunday. Hapoel Galil Elyon/Gilboa (5-1) hosts Hapoel Jerusalem (5-1) at Gan Ner, with the winner guaranteed to move into first position, at least for 24 hours, until Maccabi Tel Aviv plays Maccabi Rishon Lezion on Monday. Oded Katash's Galil enters the game on the heels of five consecutive victories, with its only defeat of the season coming to Maccabi Tel Aviv on the road. Since that defeat, Galil has dominated its opponents, winning by an average margin of 14.2 points in its recent streak. Katash has built a balanced and talented roster in which no player is on the floor more than 30 minutes per game, but seven players average between 19 and 29 minutes on court. The stars of the Galil Elyon team so far this season have been Brian Roberts (18.5 ppg) and Brian Randle (15 ppg, 6.7 rpg), and both will undoubtedly receive special attention from Jerusalem on Sunday. Hapoel has won its last three league games and will be especially confident in this one after defeating Olympia Larissa in European action last Thursday night. Unlike Katash, Jerusalem coach Guy Goodes can't afford to rotate his roster so much and, reluctantly, the team depends heavily on four players, all of whom average between 28 and 35 minutes on court. Timmy Bowers (17 ppg, 5.2 apg, 4.2 rpg), Omar Sneed (15.3 ppg, 9.3 rpg), Sharon Sasson (13.2 ppg, 4 rpg) and Moran Rot (8 ppg, 4.5 apg) are rarely on the bench, but have yet to show any signs of fatigue, despite having to play in the EuroChallenge as well. Also Sunday, Maccabi Haifa visits Ironi Kiryat Ata, Ironi Ramat Gan plays Maccabi Givat Shmuel at Zisman Arena and Hapoel Holon hosts Ironi Nahariya in a game between two teams which have lost three of their last four games. On Saturday, Bnei Hasharon lost for the first time in the BSL under the guidance of Ariel Beit-Halachmi. Ironi Ashkelon defeated Bnei Hasharon 91-74 in Ra'anana, ending the hosts four game win streak. Bnei Hasharon couldn't find their footing at the start of the game and trailed 23-13 after 10 minutes. The hosts erased the deficit in the second period, tying the score at 31-31, but still trailed by three points (39-36) at the break. Ashkelon would dominate the second half, however, and cruised to its first win in four games. Rashon Turner scored 25 points for the winners, with Steve Burtt adding 13. Cookie Belcher scored 28 points for Bnei Hasharon, which got just once point from Meir Tapiro. In other hoops news, Lior Eliyahu was named the Euroleague's MVP for Week 6 on Friday, amassing a performance index rating of 42 against Cibona Zagreb on Thursday, the highest in the competition so far this season. Eliyahu scored 24 points on 10-for-14 two-point shooting, pulled 17 rebounds, dished eight assists and drew eight fouls in the team's crucial 88-83 home victory in Group A. The Israeli forward was followed in second place by Paulius Jankunas of Zalgiris, who scored 21 points by making 8 of 11 two-pointers while adding 11 rebounds, two assists and six fouls drawn for a 32 index rating in his team's home loss to Panathinaikos.