Local hoops: Hapoel J'lem works hard to beat Ashkelon

Hapoel Jerusalem only locked up the victory in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

Hapoel JM 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Hapoel JM 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Hapoel Jerusalem toiled for 40 minutes on Sunday night before defeating Elitzur Ashkelon 86-78 at Malha Arena for its second straight win in the BSL. Jerusalem led throughout the entire game, but couldn't shake off pesky Ashkelon and only locked up the win in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Meir Tapiro finally got credit from coach Dan Shamir, playing 35 minutes, scoring 14 points, passing for seven assists and grabbing five rebounds. Tapiro had barely featured in Jerusalem's first games of the season, but on Sunday got his chance and was key in his team's victory. "I think these kinds of things happen during a season and will continue to occur throughout the year," Shamir said about Tapiro after the game. "I don't think this was a great game by Tapiro, he can play much better." For a second straight week, Matan Naor was unstoppable from beyond the arc for Hapoel, scoring 22 points. Naor was 7-for-9 nine from behind the three-point line on Sunday, a week after going 9-for-12 against Hapoel Afula/Gilboa. Naor got off to a flying start and one of his threes gave Jerusalem a promising 17-6 lead at the start of the game. The first period ended with the hosts ahead 23-11, as Ashkelon struggled to find its rhythm. After trailing at halftime 40-31, the visitors began to eat away at the deficit in the third quarter and Hanan Coleman (26 points) led his side to within two points of Jerusalem at the end of the third period. Ashkelon got as close as one point at the start of the final quarter, but Naor hit crucial three-pointers and secured his side's win with a four-point play that gave Jerusalem an 84-73 lead. Ironi Nahariya 89, Hapoel Galil-Golan 83 Ironi Nahariya maintained its perfect start to the BSL season, improving to 3-0 after beating Hapoel Galil Elyon at Kfar Blum. Galil led at the start of the game with Kenny Adeleke's (21 points) three giving his team a seven-point lead after five minutes. The first period ended with Galil ahead by three (19-16), but Nahariya came back midway through the second period thanks to Raviv Limonad, who finished with 15 points and six assists. The visitors built up their lead and brilliant free-throw shooting in the first half (21-of-22) gave them a 47-38 lead at the half. Galil-Golan came within three points of Nahariya in the third quarter, but Limonad wouldn't let the hosts complete a comeback. "We are a team without stars, but our depth and heart make the difference," Nahariya coach Ariel Bet-Halahmi said after the game. "We have had comfortable games in the BSL so far; the season is still young." Maccabi Rishon Lezion 87, Maccabi Givat Shmuel 77 Maccabi Rishon Lezion got its second win of the season with a comfortable victory over Maccabi Givat Shmuel. Reggie Moore scored the first eight points of the game and gave the hosts a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Hapoel Afula/Gilboa 87, Ironi Ramat Gan 83 Hapoel Afula/Gilboa recorded its first victory of the season by defeating Ironi Ramat Gan. Afula was led by Jermaine Hall, who scored 25 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Ramat Gan is still looking for its first victory of the season and will likely do it without coach Hanoch Mintz, who is expected to leave. Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Bnei Hasharon in the final game of Matchday 3 on Monday night at Nokia Arena.