Local hoops: Maccabi TA, Hapoel J'lem struggle but win

Both won in the BSL Sunday night, but not before suffering scares against so-called lowly opposition.

maccabi 224  (photo credit: asaf kliger )
maccabi 224
(photo credit: asaf kliger )
Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem both won in the BSL on Sunday night, but not before suffering scares against so-called lowly opposition. Maccabi trailed for most of its encounter against Hapoel Afula/Gilboa, but was the more composed side in the final quarter of the game and won 82-74 at the Nokia Arena. Jerusalem squandered a 26-point lead against Maccabi Rishon Lezion and only won 87-84 thanks to Guy Pnini's three-pointer at the buzzer. Also Sunday, Ironi Ramat Gan claimed an important 89-82 win at Ironi Nahariya and Ironi Ashkelon defeated Hapoel Galil Elyon 115-89. On Monday, Hapoel Holon hosts Bnei Hasharon. Maccabi Tel Aviv 82, Hapoel Afula/Gilboa 74 Afula/Gilboa and Maccabi exchanged the lead several times at the start of the game, but the visitors opened a 25-20 advantage at the end of the first period after scoring the last six points of the quarter. A Hanan Coleman three-pointer two minutes into the second period extended Hapoel's margin to eight points (31-23), the visitors' biggest lead of the night. Omri Casspi's three in the dying seconds of the first half brought Tel Aviv within three points at the break (41-38) and another triple by Derrick Sharp with just over two minutes to play in the third period gave the hosts their first lead of the second half (57-55). Surprisingly, Afula/Gilboa's spirit wasn't broken by the loss of the lead and the visitors entered the final 10 minutes of the encounter ahead by two points (62-60). Hapoel wouldn't, however, hold on to its advantage for long, with Maccabi improving its defensive play and holding the visitors to just 12 points in the fourth quarter on the way to yet another league win. Casspi led Maccabi with 20 points and six rebounds, with Terence Morris adding 17 points and 11 rebounds. Jermaine Hall scored 14 points for the losers. Maccabi Rishon Lezion 84, Hapoel Jerusalem 87 A 19-5 run by Jerusalem gave the team a 25-12 lead after 10 minutes and a stranglehold on the game. Hapoel continued to dominate in the second period and Timmy Bowers's steal and two points at the end of the first half opened a massive 52-28 halftime margin. The State Cup holder seemed to be strolling to an easy win, but squandered almost its entire lead in an awful third quarter. Rishon won the period 34-14, scoring six more points in one quarter than it did in the entire first half. With the momentum squarely on their side, the hosts continued to surge ahead in the fourth quarter and opened a three-point lead (74-71). The encounter continued to be tightly contested until its final moments, with Yoni Nir tying the score (84-84) with 16 seconds to play. The game seemed to be heading to overtime after Dror Hajaj lost control of the ball with just three seconds remaining, but Pnini picked up the loose ball and scored from beyond the arc as time expired. Jamie Arnold scored 17 points and grabbed 17 rebounds for Jerusalem, with Bowers adding 15 points. Cedric Banks led Rishon with 25 points. Ironi Nahariya 82, Ironi Ramat Gan 89 A high-scoring first period ended in a five-point Ramat Gan lead (29-24), but the hosts led 52-51 at the break after a good second quarter. Both teams slowed down in the third quarter, and Ramat Gan was ahead 69-67 with 10 minutes to play. Nahariya remained within one possession until the very end of the encounter, but the visitors scored the last six points of the night to secure a crucial victory. Michael Kuebler scored 18 points for the winners, with Otis Hill contributing 17 points and 12 rebounds for the hosts.