Hapoel Jerusalem defeated Hapoel Tel Aviv 88-76 as the capital city reds sported five players in double digits spoiling what may have been Yam Madar’s last game ahead of the NBA draft. After a close first half, Oded Katash’s team who were playing with a short bench with seven regulars, pulled ahead thanks to sharp shooting from long distance by Tamir Blatt and Tarik Phillip while Suleiman Braimoh and Tashawn Thomas did damage inside in the win.
Madar tried valiantly to keep his squad competitive but his 23 points and 6 assists wren enough on this night as he will eagerly await early Thursday morning to see if he will be selected in the entry draft. Braimoh led Jerusalem with 19 points, Blatt scored 16 points while Idan Zalmanson and Tarik Phillip added 15 points a piece in the victory.
Talib Zanna, Yam Madar and Reggie Upshaw got things rolling for Hapoel Tel Aviv while a Tamir Blatt triple and buckets by Tashawn Thomas and Suleiman Braimoh kept Hapoel Jerusalem in the hunt as the Tel Aviv Reds led 13-9 midway through the first quarter. Thomas scored a layup and a put back plus Braimoh drained a free throw to give Oded Katash’s team a 16-14 lead after ten minutes of play.
Jonathan Mor put down a big dunk, Daniel Koperberg and Bar Timor scored in the paint for Tel Aviv while Braimoh and Idan Zalmanson answered with points of their own down low for the capital city as they continued to lead 21-20 with 6:46 left in the second quarter. Tarik Phillip went from downtown as did Adi Cohen Saban and Chris Kramer but Madar hit a runner, Mor scored a layup while Zalmanson fouls sent Madar and Zanna to the line as they kept pace down by two, 30-28 with under 3 minutes to go. Walter Lemon got his first points of the game for Ioannis Kastritis’s squad but Blatt drilled a triple to keep Jerusalem in front 37-30 at halftime.
Blatt went from downtown but Upshaw, Timor and Madar found points in the paint, however, Phillip and Blatt found nothing but net to bump their lead up to 47-38 midway through the third quarter. Madar hit an incredible turnaround jumper and then a runner in the lane but Phillip and Zalmanson nailed elbow 3-pointers but once again Madar came to the rescue with a triple of his own while Upshaw scored points to get the Reds to within one point 53-52 with 3:15 left in the frame. Four Blatt free throws due to a Timor foul and a Kastritis technical helped Katash’s squad out while Phillip scored a 3-pointer to offset points by Lemon, however Cohen Saban thread the needle to Braimoh as Jerusalem took a 67-58 lead after thirty minutes of action.
Braimoh opened the fourth quarter with points as Phillip followed him up off a nice passing play but Madar was fouled on a layup at the other end and Lemon added free throws and a jumper as Zalmanson and the aforementioned Lemon started to get into it on the floor and had to be separated by their teammates as Jerusalem maintained a 71-65 advantage. Kramer hit a wide open triple, Blatt found a free Thomas under the basket and Zalmanson slammed the ball home to run away with the 12 point victory.
Hapoel Haifa continued their hot start as they defeated Nes Ziona 106-91 by the Carmel. Jason Siggers led the way with 27 points, Amit Simhon added 20 points while Keenan Evans added 17 points and 12 assists in the Reds win. Nimrod Levi was the Nes Ziona high scorer with 24 points as changes in personnel will be afoot at Brad Greenberg’s team.