Local Hoops: Hapoel falls at home to Ashkelon again

Also Sunday, Hapoel Holon claimed its ninth win in 11 games, defeating Hapoel Afula/Gilboa 77-64.

Hapoel Jerusalem 248.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger [file])
Hapoel Jerusalem 248.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger [file])
For the second time in six days Hapoel Jerusalem fell to a humbling defeat to a supposedly inferior Ironi Ashkelon team. Ashkelon recorded an 82-77 victory at Malha on Sunday, its third win of the season over Hapoel and second of the year in Jerusalem. The State Cup holder remains fourth in the standings thanks to Ironi Nahariya's surprise 83-73 loss to Hapoel Galil Elyon, but should Jerusalem not show a significant improvement very soon it could end up missing out on the Final Four. Also Sunday, Hapoel Holon claimed its ninth win in 11 games, defeating Hapoel Afula/Gilboa 77-64. On Monday, Bnei Hasharon hosts Maccabi Rishon Lezion. In Jerusalem, a tight first period ended in a 21-17 Asheklon lead and a Cory Carr triple at the start of the second quarter extended the visitors advantage to seven points (27-20). A 16-2 Hapoel run, however, quickly turned the game on its head and Jerusalem led 42-35 at the interval. Orien Greene's three gave Jerusalem its first double-digit lead of the night (47-37) at the start of the second half and it was looking as if the hosts were going to run away with the victory. Ashkelon would, however, score the last seven points of the third period, with Yuval Naimi's buzzer-beating three tying the score at 57-57 with 10 minutes to play. Ironi opened a slender advantage at the start of the fourth quarter, but two Timmy Bowers free throws gave the hosts the lead once more (71-70). Hapoel, however, completely lost its head in the final two minutes of the encounter, with Ashkelon going on a 7-0 run (77-71) and clinching the big win. Yariv Yatzkan scored 17 points for the winners, with Carr and Naimi adding 15 and 14 points, respectively. Erez Markovitch led five Jerusalem players in double figures, scoring 15 points and grabbing nine rebounds. In Nahariya, a Doron Shefer three gave Galil a 27-20 lead after 10 minutes and the visitors were ahead 48-35 at halftime after Gili Mosinzon's basket from beyond the arc. The hosts ate away at the margin in the third period and came within three points on an Adrian Pledger basket (63-60). Galil, however, took a 66-60 margin into the final 10 minutes of the encounter and never allowed the hosts to take the lead, holding out for an important win in its battle against relegation. In Holon, the hosts were held to just 11 points in the first period and trailed by three points after 10 minutes (14-11). A Adam Hall three-pointer increased Afula/Gilboa's advantage to 22-15 at the start of the second quarter, but a 15-2 Holon run, which was capped by a P.J. Tucker dunk, put the hosts in control for the first time. They opened the second half with a 13-2 run, giving them a stranglehold on the encounter. Lamont Jones' three at the end of the third period brought Afula/Gilboa within five points (58-53), but the visitors never really threatened to take the lead and Holon ended up cruising to another league win. Elton Brown scored 12 points for the winners, with Eric Campbell adding 11 points and 12 rebounds.