Hapoel Tel Aviv coach Rami Hadar.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Rami Hadar’s tenure as the coach of Hapoel Tel Aviv got off to a winning start in the most dramatic of fashions on Saturday night. Hapoel edged Maccabi Rishon Lezion 87-86 on the road to improve to 7-6, with Alando Tucker scoring the go-ahead three-pointer from the corner with 1.2 seconds remaining.
Rishon thought it had won the game at the buzzer, but Maalik Wayns’s basket from mid-court ultimately didn’t count, with the officials ruling that he released the ball after time had expired.
Hadar was appointed as Hapoel’s coach last Tuesday, less than three weeks after he resigned from his position as the head coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv.
He became the first coach to hold both positions in the same season and couldn’t have asked for a better start to life at Hapoel.
Mark Lyons scored 27 points against his former team on his debut for Hapoel. Wayns had 23 points for Rishon, which fell to 7-6.
Earlier Saturday, Hapoel Holon suffered its first BSL defeat since November, losing 79-61 to Ironi Nahariya. Holon entered the game on the back of a four-game winning streak, all on the road, but its return home on Saturday was not a happy one. Holon’s previous defeat, against Hapoel Eilat, also came at its home arena, and despite opening an early 13-point gap against Nahariya, it was on the losing end once more on Saturday.
Nahariya improved to 6-7 with its third win in four games, clinching the victory with a 13-2 run early in the fourth frame to open an 18-point lead (63-45).
Gilbert Brown led five Nahariya players in double figures with 15 points. James Bell scored 21 points for Holon, which fell to 9-4.
On Sunday, Hapoel Jerusalem hosts Maccabi Kiryat Gat and Bnei Herzliya can move tied with Holon in second place when it visits Maccabi Haifa.
Jerusalem suffered a 21-point humiliation at the hands of Herzliya in their last BSL game, dropping to 6-6. It will nevertheless be confident of moving back over .500 on Sunday after avenging the league loss to Herzliya by knocking it out in the State Cup quarterfinals last week before overcoming Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius in Lithuania in its Eurocup Top 16 opener.
On Monday, Maccabi Ashdod welcomes Hapoel Gilboa/ Galil and Maccabi Tel Aviv goes to Hapoel Eilat. Tel Aviv will be looking to build on Thursday’s tight win over Darussafaka in Euroleague action, snapping a sixgame losing streak in the competition.
Maccabi swingman Sonny Weems earned MVP honors for his performance, recording season highs of 24 points and eight assists for a performance index rating of 33.