Maccabi, Hapoel, Bnei Hasharon all coast

Tel Aviv, J’lem building confidence as campaign begins to heat up; Nailon earning stripes.

MACCABI TEL AVIV center Sofoklis Schortsanitis 311 (photo credit: Maccabi Tel Aviv website)
MACCABI TEL AVIV center Sofoklis Schortsanitis 311
(photo credit: Maccabi Tel Aviv website)
Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem rebounded from defeats to claim easy victories in the BSL on Sunday night ahead of their showdown at Nokia Arena next week.
Maccabi was totally outplayed in its 16-point defeat in the Euroleague at Caja Laboral Vitoria on Thursday, but was always in control on Sunday in the 104-87 victory at Ironi Ashkelon.
Next up for Maccabi is a far sterner test against Zalgiris Kaunas in its Euroleague home opener at Nokia on Thursday before it hosts Jerusalem in a classic BSL clash next week.
“We dominated the entire game,” Maccabi coach David Blatt said. “But Zalgiris is a stronger team than Ashkelon and we will have to be composed for 40 minutes.”
After falling to a road loss at Bnei Hasharon last week, Jerusalem was desperate for a confidence-boosting victory on Sunday and it got exactly that by thrashing Maccabi Ashdod 98-83 at Malha Arena.
Hapoel was never in any danger of losing and coach Oded Katash is feeling optimistic ahead of his team’s trip to Tel Aviv.
“We are still very erratic and we need to find our killer instinct,” Katash said.
“I’m entering the game against Maccabi with a good feeling. You always look forward to these types of games and you can’t predict what might unfold.”
Also Sunday, Bnei Hasharon trounced Maccabi Rishon Lezion 86-60.
On Monday, Maccabi Haifa hosts Hapoel Gilboa/Galil.
Maccabi Tel Aviv 104, Ironi Ashkelon 87
Maccabi’s dominance was never really under any doubt, with the visitors taking a 25-15 lead into the second period after a Chuck Eidson basket.
Tel Aviv continued to pull ahead in the second quarter and would not drop its double-figure cushion until the interval.
A Doron Perkins bucket extended the yellow-and-blue’s gap to 38-21 and Ashkelon had a mountain to climb after entering the break trailing 55-41.
Maccabi got complacent at the end of the third quarter, allowing the hosts to close to within five points (75-70) after an 8-0 run, which was capped by Thomas Terrell’s three-point play.
However, that would be as close as Ashkelon would come, with Tel Aviv stretching its lead once again in the fourth period to clinch a second straight BSL win.
Sofoklis Schortsanitis led Maccabi with 24 points in just 17 minutes, with Perkins scoring 20.
Tim Pickett had 22 points for Ashkelon.
Hapoel Jerusalem 98, Maccabi Ashdod 83
Ashdod gave Jerusalem a real run for its money in the first period, with the hosts only leading after 10 minutes thanks to Yuval Naimi’s three-pointer (26-25).
However, Hapoel would tighten its defense in the second quarter and opened a double-digit margin by the break after holding the visitors to 15 points in 10 minutes.
Sam Clancy’s free-throws gave the hosts a 50-40 halftime lead and Jerusalem continued to extend its advantage at the start of the second half, with a Will Solomon triple opening a 61-46 gap.
Another basket from beyond the arc by Moshe Mizrahi ensured Hapoel was in complete control with 10 minutes to play (80-63) and Katash’s men would cruise to an easy victory in the fourth quarter.
Jason Rich scored 18 points for Jerusalem, with Brian Randle and Dion Dowell adding 15 and 14 points, respectively.
Meir Tapiro was excellent against his former team, scoring 18 points for Ashdod, with Wayne Wallace contributing 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Bnei Hasharon 86, Maccabi Rishon Lezion 60
Bnei Hasharon scored the first 11 points of the night and never looked back.
The hosts were held to an embarrassing eight points in the first 10 minutes and Bnei Hasharon led 25-8 after the first period.
The visitors would then score the first seven points of the second quarter to open an almost unassailable 32-8 margin.
A 46-22 halftime gap meant Bnei Hasharon had total control at the break and its 67-36 lead after three periods rendered the final 10 minutes meaningless.
Lee Nailon led Bnei Hasharon with 18 points and nine rebounds, with Dan Grunfeld scoring 17.
Dwayne Mitchell was Rishon’s only player to score in double-figures, scoring 20 points and grabbing 15 rebounds.