Local Hoops: Hapoel stages impressive comeback in BSL

Jerusalem was behind for more than three quarters of the game, but took the lead with seven minutes to go and never looked back.

Hapoel Jerusalem 224.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Jerusalem 224.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
It's tight at the top, but Hapoel Jerusalem showed on Sunday night it has what it takes to make it to the BSL Final Four, after a 90-85 comeback victory over Ironi Ramat Gan at the Malha Arena. Jerusalem was behind for more than three quarters of the game, but took the lead through Jayson Wells with seven minutes to go and never looked back. After Hapoel's European season came to an abrupt end last month, maybe this was the game which will prove to be the turn around in the league for the more than erratic team, which was level on points with Ramat Gan in fifth place in the BSL going into Sunday's 17th round of BSL games. Ramat Gan has been the surprise package of the 2007/08 season, but could not put enough points on the board in the closing moments to take the win. Guy Pnini was once again the standout player for the hosts, scoring an impressive 26 points, including 14 in a superb first half which kept Jerusalem in the game. Beasley was clearly frustrated with the way the game ended. "It was a good game all the way through but unfortunately we made a few errors and they capitalized. All of a sudden they pulled ahead and we couldn't get over that little hump we needed to." Jayson Wells, who returned to Jerusalem last month for his second stint in two years, scored 14 points. Also Sunday, Maccabi Tel Aviv thrashed Ironi Ashkelon 108-81 at the Nokia Arena and can now turn its focus to Thursday's crucial Euroleague game against Zalgiris Kaunas. Yotam Halperin led seven Maccabi players in double figures with 15 points. Bnei Hasharon won for the fifth time in six games on Sunday, defeating Ironi Nahariya 84-81 behind Ndudi Ebi's 24 points and eight rebounds. Hapoel Afula/Gilboa climbed off the bottom the table, beating Hapoel Galil Elyon 84-70 for its first win in six games. On Monday, Hapoel Holon will look to rebound from its heartbreaking one point loss to Maccabi Tel Aviv last week when it hosts Maccabi Rishon Lezion. In Jerusalem, Hapoel opened the game with a Pnini two-point basket, but that would prove to be the only lead the home team would hold until deep into the second half. While Hapoel constantly tried to get back into the game it struggled throughout the first half, which ended with Ramatr Gan leading by 47-40. Jerusalem continued scratching at the gap and ended the third period only three points behind. The fourth quarter saw the turnaround Dan Shamir knew his team could make. A three-pointer from the uncharacteristically quiet Dror Hagag roused the crowd and a minute later Wells hit the shot to make it 71-70, the first lead for more than 30 minutes. From that point on Jerusalem had complete control and kept its lead, while Ramat Gan appeared to capitulate under the pressure.