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Holon, Jerusalem jostle for top-four finish
By ALLON SINAI
15/04/2012
Battle for BSL playoff seeding enters final stretch Sunday night as teams tussle for home-court advantage.
 
The battle for BSL playoff seeding enters the final stretch on Sunday night as teams tussle for home-court advantage in the best-of-five quarterfinals and look to avoid meeting Maccabi Tel Aviv until the Final Four title game.

Maccabi clinched first place in the standings and the No. 1 seed long ago, but it will still have a crucial role to play in the battle between Hapoel Jerusalem and Hapoel Holon for a top-four finish.

Jerusalem beat Holon 80-70 on Wednesday to move ahead of its opponent on a tiebreaker, with both teams owning a 13-10 record and Jerusalem winning two of the three meetings between the sides this season.

Jerusalem doesn’t visit Ashkelon until Monday, but ironically it will be crossing its fingers for arch-rival Maccabi Tel Aviv on Sunday as the yellow- and-blue host Holon at Nokia Arena.

A Maccabi (20-2) win combined with a Jerusalem victory 24 hours later will see the Reds secure a top-four finish and home-court advantage.

Despite a terribly erratic season, Jerusalem could even enter the playoffs from third position – meaning it won’t need to face Maccabi until the BSL final – should it win its last two games and Maccabi Rishon Lezion drop its last two.

Rishon (14-9) visits Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (15-8) on Sunday, with the northerners needing a win to clinch second place.

However, even should it fall, Rishon will be a firm favorite to claim the victory it requires when it hosts Ashkelon in its final regular season game next Sunday, while Jerusalem will be a clear underdog when it welcomes Maccabi in its finale.

The eighth and final playoff berth is also yet to be decided, with Barak Netanya, BC Habika’a and Bnei Hasharon fighting for the questionable honor of facing Maccabi in the playoffs.

After snapping a four-game losing streak, Habika’a (8-14) can make it a two-horse race when it hosts Maccabi Ashdod on Sunday.

Bnei Hasharon (7-15) will need to defeat Maccabi Haifa on Monday and for Habika’a to lose to remain in the hunt.

However, regardless of Sunday’s result, the identity of the eighth seed seems destined to come down to the showdown between Habika’a and Barak Netanya (9-14) on Thursday.
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