In a battle between two teams that are entertaining hopes of competing for the Super League championship, Bnei Hasharon defeated Hapoel Jerusalem last night 81-76 in a tight contest at Herzliya’s Hayovel Arena.
Bnei Hasharon saw their young phenom Ben Rice contribute 17 crucial points, while point guard Filiberto Rivera led his club with 19 points, including crucial free throws down the stretch in the fourth quarter.
The home team came out of the gates on an 11-3 to open the game thanks to early energy from Dan Grunfeld and Shawn James. But the Jerusalemites responded with an 11-1 run of their own to close out the first quarter trailing by just 21-20. The second quarter was also a close affair, as Bnei Hasharon nursed a narrow lead.
It wasn’t until the third quarter that Oded Katash showed flashes of potential that could give Maccabi Tel Aviv a challenge for the trophy.
Hasharon trailed Jerusalem late in the third quarter, but guard Ronald Steele, who failed to make an impact earlier in the game, re-emerged to give his team an advantage. Steele finished the game with 13 points.
The most critical moment of the game came in the fourth quarter, when trailing by two points, Hapoel could not convert on shots by Yuval Naimy and the anemic Jason Rich.