Local Hoops: Hapoel Jerusalem finally wins

Beat Bnei Hasharon 77-69 at the Malha Arena in the BSL.

Hapoel Jerusalem 224.88 (photo credit: Roi Levy [file])
Hapoel Jerusalem 224.88
(photo credit: Roi Levy [file])
After six weeks without a victory and four days removed from coach Dan Shamir's resignation, Hapoel Jerusalem returned to winning ways on Monday night, defeating Bnei Hasharon 77-69 at the Malha Arena in the BSL. Hapoel had lost its last five league games under Shamir and almost fell out of contention for Final Four qualification. Monday's win with new coach Ziv Erez, however, boosts the team's hopes of reaching the season ending tournament at the Nokia Arena, assuming of course the side continues its winning ways in the regular season's final four games. Bnei Hasharon failed to score more than 75 points for a third consecutive games and its third straight defeat means the team has little chance of ending the season in first position. Jamie Arnold led Jerusalem with 18 points and nine rebounds, with Timmy Bowers and Guy Pnini scoring 16 and 15 points, respectively. Jason Williams had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the visitors. Jerusalem hit the ground running at the start of the game and Pnini's three-point move gave the team a promising 19-5 lead with three minutes to play in the first period. Speaking after the game Hapoel's Ramel Curry summed up the atmosphere in the Jerusalem camp. "We went through a transition about five days ago with Dan Shamir resigning. The first thing was that we just wanted to win, then there was a sense of urgency," he told reporters. "Things were a little tense. Everybody stepped up the last couple of days. We knew we had to win and we did." The visitors ate away at the margin as the quarter progressed and were down by 11 points (23-12) after 10 minutes. Bnei Hasharon improved its defensive play and a 10-0 run to start the second period, which was capped by Rod Grizzard's dunk, brought the team within a single point (23-22). Ndudi Ebi's dunk with a minute to go in the first half gave the visitors their first lead of the night (36-34) and Bnei Hasharon was ahead 37-34 at the break. The hosts regained control of the encounter once more in the third quarter and were also helped by the exit of Meir Tapiro, who left the game with an injury midway through the period. Jerusalem led by as many as seven points (52-45) and was ahead 59-54 with 10 minutes to play after Williams's buzzer-beater. Pnini opened the fourth quarter with a three and Erez Markovitch's lay-up in Hapoel's next possession extended the gap to nine points (64-55). Four straight points by Bnei Hasharon's Ousmane Cisse cut the margin, but Arnold's three points gave the hosts their first double-digit advantage of the night (69-59). Williams did all he could to keep his team in touch, but Hapoel's win was never in doubt and the State Cup holder finally tasted victory once more. Jorg Luyken contributed to this report.