Kiryat Gat beats Ness Ziona for debut BSL win

Kiryat Gat is playing in the top flight of Israeli basketball for the first time this season.

October 20, 2015 03:43
2 minute read.
Hapoel Eilat

Hapoel Eilat guard Afik Nissim had 15 points and five assists in last night’s 72-69 win over Maccabi Haifa.. (photo credit: DANNY MARON)

Maccabi Kiryat Gat claimed an historic victory in the BSL on Monday night, while last season’s runner-up Hapoel Eilat got off the mark with a win over Maccabi Haifa.

Kiryat Gat is playing in the top flight of Israeli basketball for the first time this season. It lost by 24 points to Maccabi Tel Aviv in a painful welcome to the BSL last week, but proved it belongs in the league with an 82-79 victory over Ironi Ness Ziona on Monday.

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A 12-0 run in the fourth quarter turned the game on its head and gave Kiryat Gat a slender lead (78- 73) it wouldn’t relinquish in front of a mere 150 fans in Ashkelon, where the newly promoted side will be hosting its home games this season.

Trey McKinney Jones led Kiryat Gat with 18 points, while Devin Oliver added 15 points and 14 rebounds. The 40-year-old Meir Tapiro, who made his debut with Hapoel Tel Aviv in the 1994/95 season and set a new appearance record for a player in the top flight last season, finished with 11 points and seven assists, hitting the decisive free throws with 15 seconds remaining.

“It is important for a newly promoted team to win and show that it deserves to be in the league,” said Tapiro. “The guys showed a lot of character because we were down in the fourth quarter. We should be happy, but we need to remember that we still have plenty of room for improvement. We are still learning each other and we are only at the beginning of a long road.”

Diamon Simpson had 20 points and 11 boards for Ness Ziona, which fell to 0-2.

The game between Eilat and Maccabi Haifa also came down to the wire before the hosts notched a 72-69 win to move to 1-1 after losing to Maccabi Rishon Lezion in their opener.

Haifa guard Gregory Vargas tied the score at 67-67 with 43 seconds to play, but Afik Nissim replied with a three-point play at the other end 10 seconds later, and Eilat breathed a huge sigh of relief when Amir Celestin missed his open shot from beyond the arc as the final buzzer sounded.

Kevin Palmer had 19 points for Eilat, with Nissim contributing 15 points and five assists. Vargas scored 22 points for Haifa, which fell to 1-1.

“It is always tough against Haifa,” said Nissim. “They play very aggressively and I’m happy that despite the difficulty and pressure we managed to win the game.”

Maccabi Ashdod hosts Ironi Nahariya on Tuesday.

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