Local Hoops: J'lem loses to Holon, drifts from 4th

Holon, with wins in 12 of its last 13 games, is playing the best basketball in the country.

holon 224 (photo credit: )
holon 224
(photo credit: )
Hapoel Holon added another impressive victory to its ever growing list on Monday night, defeating Hapoel Jerusalem 103-88 in the BSL. Holon has now won 12 of its last 13 games and is itching for the Final Four to start while it's playing the best basketball in the country. Chester Simmons and Malik Dixon led Holon with 18 points each, with P.J. Tucker adding 16 points and nine rebounds. Guy Pnini scored 19 points and stole seven balls for the visitors, with Erez Markovitch adding 17 points. Jerusalem's defeat is a significant blow to the State Cup holder's hopes of reaching the season ending Final Four. With just three games to play in the season, Jerusalem has two more defeats than Ironi Naharia, which is currently fourth in the standings. Nahariya claimed its fourth straight victory on Monday, defeating Bnei Hasharon 80-69 in Ra'anana. Matan Naor led the winners scoring 17 points, with Rod Grizzard scoring 24 points and grabbing 12 rebounds for the hosts. Also Monday, Ironi Ramat Gan defeated Hapoel Afula/Gilboa 99-84 behind Brian Tolbert's 28 points. On Thursday, Oded Katash returns to the Nokia Arena with Hapoel Galil Elyon to face Maccabi Tel Aviv, four months after leaving the Euroleague runner-up. In Holon, the encounter was tight right from the start, with Timmy Bowers giving the visitors a three point advantage with a three-pointer after four minutes. Four straight Noel Felix points made sure Jerusalem was ahead after 10 minutes (24-22) and a Dror Hajaj triple at the start of the second period opened a six point margin (28-22). Moran Rot answered back with a three of his own in Holon's next possession and a sensational alley-oop between Rot and Eric Campbell tied the score at 32-32. Midway through the second quarter Simmons caught fire and his two consecutive three's followed by a dunk gave the hosts a 40-37 lead. A Jayson Wells basket in the final seconds of the first half brought Jerusalem within a single point at the break (45-44), but Holon got off to a fast start in the third period and Dixon's jumper opened a 54-47 margin. The hosts increased their lead to as many as nine points (75-66), but Jamie Arnold's turnaround hook shot capped a quarter ending 7-2 run which brought the reds right back into contention (77-73). Jerusalem continued its run in the fourth period and Bowers's basket gave the team an 83-82 lead. The American's points would, however, prove to be Jerusalem's last for a while as Holon went on a 9-0 run. A thunderous Tucker dunk capped the hosts' run and gave the side a lead it wouldn't relinquish. In Ra'anana, Nahariya got off to a flying start and midway through the first period opened a double-digit lead thanks to Otis Hill's basket. A Grizzard three-pointer would, however, bring the hosts within one point at the end of the first quarter (19-18) and another basket by the American forward tied the score at 27-27. The first half also ended in a tie (36-36), but Nahariya would open a 48-42 lead in the third period thanks to Naor's three. Despite Bnei Hasharon cutting the gap to four points soon afterwards the visitors clinched the victory in the final minutes of the quarter, racing to a 16-3 run which increased the lead to an unassailable 17 points (66-49).