Netanya still perfect; Hapoel TA cruising along

Barak Netanya remains only unbeaten team in BSL with a victory at Ironi Ashkelon.

CENTER JEFF ALLEN of Hapoel Tel Aviv 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
CENTER JEFF ALLEN of Hapoel Tel Aviv 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Barak Netanya remained the only unbeaten team in the BSL with a victory at Ironi Ashkelon on Monday night, while Hapoel Tel Aviv built on its impressive start to the season with a resounding win over the previously perfect Maccabi Rishon Lezion.
Netanya wasn’t expected to be one of the league’s stronger teams this season, but it has shown real character in the first month of the campaign and claimed an 81-65 win at Ashkelon on Monday to improve to 4-0.
“It feels great to win,” said Netanya coach Danny Franco. “The guys are playing with a smile and a lot of aggressiveness and it is a pleasure to be on the sidelines.”
Marco Killingsworth led Netanya with 21 points, with Gili Mosinzon scoring 13 for Ashkelon, which dropped to 0-4.
Rishon entered Monday’s game on a high after last week’s upset of Maccabi Tel Aviv, but Hapoel quickly burst the bubble, leading by as many as 38 points (60-22) at one stage before recording an 80-63 road win.
“We don’t have a massive budget, but we have a united roster with amazing fans and an organized management,” said Hapoel coach Erez Edelstein.
Demontez Stitt had 19 points for Hapoel, with Jonathan Skjoldebrand scoring 15 and Gal Eitan and Jeff Allen adding 12 points each.
“We knew what this team is capable of. They just beat Maccabi last week and we wanted to come out and show that we are a very good team,” said Stitt.
Lazeric Jones led Rishon with 16 points.
Hapoel (3-1) seized control of the encounter with a 16-0 run in the first quarter (22-4) and never relinquished its hold on the game for a third straight W.
Tel Aviv dominated the boards and caught Rishon off guard on the fast break time and again.
Stitt’s lay up after another Rishon turnover capped Hapoel’s run and the visitors led 22-6 after 10 minutes, with Stitt and Allen scoring 10 points each and the Reds outrebounding their opponents 17-5.
Curtis Kelly’s basket took the margin to 20 points (33-13), with Yotam Shiran providing one of the highlights of the game with a tremendous dunk as part of a threepoint play with 1:20 remaining (38-13).
The gap reached 26 points by the break (41-15) and any notion that Rishon would mount a comeback in the second half was ended early in the third quarter when Matan Naor’s free throws increased the lead to 30 points (47-17).