Local Hoops: Top teams maintain status quo

Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Jerusalem, Ironi Nahariya all win with ease.

Mac TA 224.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Mac TA 224.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Jerusalem and Ironi Nahariya all recorded convincing wins Sunday night, cementing their places as the top three teams in the BSL. Tel Aviv maintained its perfect start to the season, thrashing Hapoel Afula/Gilboa on the road. "This is a difficult arena to play at," Maccabi coach Oded Katash said. "We played relatively well and managed to show some of the things we've been working on." A 37-17 third quarter for Jerusalem made sure the team defeated Maccabi Rishon Lezion at Malha Arena, recovering from its loss to Maccabi Tel Aviv last week. "We won the game, but didn't play well for large parts of it," Jerusalem coach Dan Shamir said. "A few minutes of energy and good basketball were enough for us to win the game." Nahariya led throughout its encounter with Ironi Ramat Gan and won for a fourth time in five games this season. Also Sunday, Hapoel Galil Elyon recorded its first win in the BSL this season, edging Ironi Ashkelon at Kfar Blum. The draw for the quarterfinals of the State Cup also took place Sunday. Hapoel Jerusalem faces Bnei Hasharon in a repeat of last year's final and Maccabi Tel Aviv plays Hapoel Galil Elyon. Hapoel Holon faces Ironi Ramat Gan and Hapoel Afula/Gilboa plays Ironi Nahariya. The first legs will be played on December 23, with the return legs taking place on January 6. Maccabi Tel Aviv 101, Hapoel Afula/Gilboa 80 Maccabi was never in any danger of losing its first BSL game of the season at Afula. Yotam Halperin scored 10 of his 18 points in the first quarter and the visitors were ahead 28-17 after 10 minutes. Hapoel seemed content with its deficit and trailed 46-34 at the break. The second half was much like the first, with the perennial champion scoring at will and cruising to its fourth straight league win. David Bluthenthal added 14 points for Tel Aviv, with Jermaine Hall scoring 20 points for the hosts. Hapoel Jerusalem 92, Maccabi Rishon Lezion 84 Rishon opened an early lead, with Cedric Banks scoring a layup to open a six-point margin (8-2). The hosts would quickly closed the gap and Timmy Bowers's basket gave his team a 21-19 lead after 10 minutes. Rishon's Bryant Markson tied the game at halftime (42-42), but a 37-17 third quarter gave Hapoel a commanding lead. Rishon closed within six points (88-82) with two minutes remaining, but Hapoel hung on for the win. Bowers clinched the victory with a three-pointer in the final minute. Jamie Arnold led Jerusalem with 28 points and seven rebounds. Bowers added 20 points and six rebounds, with Guy Pnini and Marcus Slaughter scoring 19 and 13 points respectively. Juan Mendez led Rishon with 27 points and six rebounds. Ironi Nahariya 99, Ironi Ramat Gan 81 Nahariya raced to a 9-0 lead at the start of the game and was up by 10 points after the first quarter (27-17). The visitors continued to dominate in the second period and took a 47-37 lead into the interval. Ramat Gan failed to eat away at the margin in the second half and Nahariya cruised to its fourth win in five games. Sasa Ocokoljic scored 24 points for Nahariya, with Ashante Johnson and Adrian Pledger adding 21 and 15 points respectively. Jerome Beasley and Michael Kuebler led Ramat Gan with 20 points each. Hapoel Galil Elyon 100, Ironi Ashkelon 90 Clif Brown's 33 points and Gili Mosinzons's 23 helped Galil break its four-game losing streak and record its first win of the BSL season. Ashkelon was ahead 70-68 after three tight quarters, but Galil was more composed in the fourth period and clinched the win. Or Eitan scored 15 points for Galil. Cory Carr led Ashkelon with 22 points.