A week before the teams face-off at Nokia Arena, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem recorded their 17th and 16th victories of the BSL season.
By ALLON SINAI
A week before the teams face-off at Nokia Arena, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem recorded their 17th and 16th victories of the BSL season on Thursday night and showed that they're all set for next week's much anticipated encounter.
Maccabi thrashed Elitzur Ashkelon 101-78 in Tel Aviv, while Jerusalem crushed Maccabi Rishon Lezion 110-69 at Malha Arena.
After starting the game slowly and allowing Ashkelon to open a 14-11 lead, Maccabi went on a 20-2 run which effectively clinched the victory. Will Bynum's basket at the end of the first period gave the hosts a 33-19 lead after 10 minutes and Tel Aviv was cruising to another league win.
A 9-0 Ashkelon run cut Maccabi's lead to 42-29, but Yotam Halperin's good shooting kept his side comfortably ahead, with the team leading 50-35 at halftime.
Tel Aviv continued to extend its lead in the second half and was up by 24 points (71-47) midway through the third quarter. The hosts dominated proceedings for the remainder of the game, allowing coach Neven Spahija to rest players ahead of the meeting with Jerusalem.
Six Maccabi players scored in double figures, with Jamie Arnold leading the side with 18 points and six rebounds.
Unlike Maccabi, Jerusalem never even gave its opponent the pleasure of an early lead and dictated the play right from the start. A 14-2 run in the first period gave the hosts a 25-15 lead at quarter's end, a margin that would continue to grow as the game progressed.
After taking a 50-34 lead into the interval, Rishon was down and out and Hapoel opened a 26 point margin (78-52) by the end of the third period.
Coach Dan Shamir gave all his players court time with the victory clinched and a 32 point fourth quarter piled the misery on a pathetic Rishon side, which has now lost eight straight games. Terrence Morris led Hapoel with 16 points and 10 rebounds, with six of his teammates also scoring in double figures.
Also on Thursday, Bnei Hasharon defeated Ironi Ramat Gan 88-78, cementing its third position in the league standings.
Good play by Ousmane Cisse, who finished the game with 21 points and 16 rebounds, helped Bnei Hasharon take a 48-34 halftime lead.
A 13-0 run by the hosts in the third period (63-40) secured the win for the Sharon side, with Ramat Gan's late run only cutting the margin slightly.
Bnei Hasharon sharpshooter Lee Nailon added 21 points for the winners.
Ironi Nahariya and Hapoel Galil Elyon Golan remained tied on points in the battle for fourth position after defeating Maccabi Givat Shmuel and Hapoel Afula/Gilboa respectively on Thursday.
Nahariya, which is currently in fourth position in the league, thrashed Givat Shmuel 91-66, with Galil beating Afula/Gilboa 103-90 behind Tray Simmons' 23 points and Kenny Adeleke's 16 points and 11 rebounds.
A quick start by Galil gave the side a comfortable first half lead (58-42), but a fourth quarter run by the visitors brought the side within eight points (89-81) of the hosts in the closing stages of the game. However, Afula/Gilboa failed to complete the comeback and Galil held on to claim the crucial win.
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