(photo credit: ODED KARNI/BSL)
The battle for a berth in the BSL playoffs continued to heat up on Monday night, with eight teams still in contention for six places.
With each team having six regular season games left to play, only four games separate Maccabi Rishon Lezion in third place (15-12) and Ironi Nahariya (11- 16) in 10th, with the top eight to advance to the quarterfinals.
Maccabi Tel Aviv (23-4) and Hapoel Jerusalem (20-7) have essentially already wrapped up the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively, but the remainder of the playoff picture remains unclear.
The final three spots in the playoffs look set to only be decided at the final buzzer of the regular season, with just two games separating Eilat (13-14) in fifth and Nahariya.
Bnei Herzliya moved tied with Maccabi Haifa at 12-15 on Monday, beating the Greens 95-79.
A tight first half ended in a fivepoint Herzliya lead (46-41) and the hosts never looked back after breaking the game open by scoring 13 of the final 17 points of the third frame (71-58).
Julian Wright had 21 points and 12 boards for Herzliya, with Yuval Naimi adding 20 points and Josh Selby finishing with a triple-double of 14 points, 12 boards and 11 assists.
Rene Rougeau scored 21 points for Haifa.
Nahariya remained clear of the relegation battle and kept in touch with the top eight by defeating Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (7-20) 88-77. A 14-2 run late in the third quarter and early in the fourth opened a 15-point gap (71- 56) and secured Nahariya’s win.
Mark Lyons scored 22 points for the winners, with Robert Rothbert registering his ninth consecutive double-double, posting 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Rafi Menco had 18 points for Gilboa.
Maccabi Ashdod (8-19) moved one game ahead of rock-bottom Gilboa with a 79-75 victory at Ironi Ness Ziona (13-14). Ivan Aska led five Ashdod players in double figures with 18 points, while Mitchell Watt netted 20 points for Ness Ziona.