Local Hoops: Hapoel Jerusalem thrashes Rishon

New signing Torin Francis gets eight points on debut as J'lem wins 96-74.

Torin Francis 248.88 (photo credit: Roi Levy)
Torin Francis 248.88
(photo credit: Roi Levy)
Hapoel Jerusalem all but secured itself second-position in the standings at the end of the regular season on Sunday, while Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Holon edged closer to clinching home-court advantage in the BSL playoffs. Jerusalem improved its league record in Malha to 10-0, thrashing Maccabi Rishon Lezion 96-74. A 14-0 run in the second period gave Hapoel a stranglehold on the encounter (39-22) and Guy Goodes's team led 50-34 at the break. Rishon closed to within six points (66-58) by the start of the fourth quarter, but the hosts ran riot in the final 10 minutes and cruised to a comfortable win. Yuval Naimi orchestrated Hapoel's play well, scoring 21 points and passing five assists while new signing Torin Francis scored eight points and grabbed nine rebounds on his BSL debut. Travis Watson and Omar Sneed added 17 and 13 points respectively, with Robert Conley scoring 25 points for Rishon. "We're building ourselves towards the end of next month, aiming to peak in time for the playoffs and the Final Four," Goodes said. "I hope we can continue and improve." Haifa was once again nowhere near its best on Sunday, but still managed to claim a 77-69 victory over Maccabi Givat Shmuel at Romema. Malik Dixon scored 22 points in his best game since signing for Haifa, with Doron Perkins superb in his second game back from injury, scoring 20 points, stealing the ball seven times, passing six assists and taking five rebounds. Yoni Nir scored 15 points for Givat Shmuel, which has now lost five consecutive games. Holon seemed to be on its way to a shock defeat on Sunday, trailing 70-60 to rock-bottom Ironi Kiryat Ata with nine minutes to play. However, Danny Franco's red-hot team dominated the closing stages of the encounter and won 83-79, its fifth straight victory. Luis Flores was outstanding with 30 points and nine rebounds, with Uri Kukia adding 14 points and 16 rebounds. Aaron Nixon and Vladi Ermichin each scored 16 points for Kiryat Ata, which seems all but destined to be relegated. Hapoel Galil/Gilboa has still got a chance to move into the top-four and claim home-court advantage after defeating Ironi Nahariya 84-72 on Sunday. Isaiah Swann scored 15 points for Galil, with Ron Lewis scoring 22 points for Nahariya, which now faces a real fight to finish in the top-eight and qualify for the playoffs. Also Sunday, Ironi Ashkelon put some distance between itself and the bottom two, winning for a second straight week, 81-66 at Ironi Ramat Gan. Rashon Turner had yet another monster game under the baskets, scoring 22 points and grabbing 21 rebounds. Carmelo Lee scored 19 points for Ramat Gan, which had won five of its last six entering Sunday's game. On Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Bnei Hasharon.