Ironi Nahariya added the scalp of Maccabi Tel Aviv to the one of Hapoel Jerusalem on Monday night, moving tied with the yellow- and-blue at 6-3 with a 76-70 victory.
Nahariya beat defending champion Jerusalem at home two weeks earlier and showed it was no coincidence by overcoming Maccabi, handing new coach Zan Tabak his first BSL defeat since taking charge. Maccabi thrashed Maccabi Haifa by 40 points in local league action last week, but it struggled yet again on Monday and needs to register a significant improvement to not only have any chance of advancing in the Euroleague but also of triumphing in the BSL.
The tight encounter in Nahariya came down to the final two minutes, with Oded Brandwein’s three-pointer giving the hosts a 70-69 lead with 1:40 minutes to play. Ike Ofoegbu only hit one of two free-throw attempts to tie the score, and after scoring twice from the line, Cameron Clark stole the ball from Jordan Farmar and gave Nahariya a four-point advantage (74-70) with 38.6 seconds left from which Maccabi could not return.
“My dream when I came to coach here was to see the arena full and that is what happened today,” said Nahariya coach Eric Alfasi. “We showed a lot of character. We played very well defensively and we always try and see where we can improve on offense.”