Local hoops: Maccabi TA trounces Ashkelon; J'lem edges Afula
Bnei Hasharon suffered a surprise 78-58 defeat at the hands of Maccabi Rishon Lezion.
By SHARON SOLOMON
Maccabi Tel Aviv snapped out of a rare two-game losing streak Sunday.
After falling prey to Bnei Hasharon in the State Cup semifinals and Tau Victoria in the first Euroleague Top 16 Group D game, the yellow-and-blue hosted Ironi Ashkelon and registered an easy 107-73 win in a BSL Matchday 11 game at Nokia Arena.
Bnei Hasharon, which lost in the State Cup final to Hapoel Jerusalem, suffered a surprise 78-58 defeat at the hands of Maccabi Rishon Lezion. Hapoel Jerusalem managed a tight 103-98 win over Hapoel Afula/Gilboa and Ironi Nahariya beat Ironi Ramat Gan 84-77.
Oded Katash and Hapoel Galil Elyon-Golan take on Givat Shmuel Monday night in the Matchday 11 finale. Both teams are below the red line with 13 points each and are desperate to escape the relegation zone.
Maccabi Tel Aviv 107,Ironi Ashkelon 73
The host breezed to a 12-3 lead in the opening minutes after Will Bynum buried two consecutive three-pointers. Marcus Hatten tried to get the visitors back into the game with some impressive solo play, and Ashkelon cut the deficit to 24-16 at the end of the first period.
Derrick Sharp was inserted into the game in the second quarter and the yellow-and-blue started to dominate. The defending BSL champion stepped up the defense and stung the visitors with fast breaks, racing away to a convincing 61-39 halftime lead.
The second half was a complete blowout, as Tel Aviv was firing on all cylinders and outclassed its opponents in every facet of the game. Maccabi led 87-58 after a one-sided third period, and Ashkelon surrendered.
Bynum poured in 20 points, including five shots from beyond the arc. Lior Eliyahu turned in another convincing performance, registered 20 points and collecting nine rebounds. Nikola Vujcic contributed 16 points.
"We have been working hard lately," Sharp said after the win. "We deserved this win. These games eventually help and it takes away the pressure. Inconsistency is caused by inexperience. We have many young players and they need more experience."
Maccabi Rishon Lezion 78, Bnei Hasharon 58
The determined hosts came out with a physical game plan and successfully disrupted Bnei Hasharon's trademark open court play. The first quarter was played at a slow pace, with Rishon allowing the visitors only 18 points.
The hosts turned on the offense in the second period, racing away to a 37-26 lead at halftime. Lee Nailon had 15 points for Bnei Hasharon in the first half but his team was unable to turn the tide, as none of his teammates scored in double figures.
Bnei Hasharon's offense continued to falter in the second half, with Rishon double-teaming Nailon and increasing its lead.
The hosts led 60-40 at the beginning of the final quarter.
Bryan Tolbert led the way for Rishon with a brilliant 20-point performance. Oded Sha'ashua scored 15 points and also distributed four assists. Brandon Kurtz added nine points and eight rebounds for the hosts, who secured their second straight BSL win.
Hapoel Jerusalem 103, Hapoel Afula/Gilboa 98
Dan Shamir decided to alter his starting lineup, with Dror Hajaj getting the nod following his brilliant display in the State Cup. The move proved to be disastrous, though, as Jerusalem's small lineup was punished by the visitors' strong play in the paint.
The visitors made a defiant 9-2 run after tipoff and looked strong after forcing a number of Jerusalem players into foul trouble. Mario Austin's physical play helped the hosts back into the game, but Afula still led 27-26 after a surprisingly offensive first quarter.
Jerusalem tried to break the visitors' momentum but had a hard time scoring against a tough zone defense. Tunji Awojobi continued to work his magic against his former team and helped Afula to a 50-45 halftime lead.
Afula ran out of gas after the break, as Austin utilized mismatches in the paint and helped his team out of trouble. The former Chicago Bulls forward finished the game with 20 points and nine rebounds.
Jurica Golemac recorded a triple-double with 13 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
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