Despite entering the BSL quarterfinals as a clear underdog, Hapoel Holon never doubted it could oust favorite Hapoel Jerusalem. Holon, seeded No. 7, took a vital step towards achieving its goal on Thursday, leveling the best-of-five series at 1-1 with a 79-75 home victory over Jerusalem (2).

After surviving a late scare to claim an 89-83 win at Malha Arena in Game 1 last week, Jerusalem was hoping to move within a single victory of a place in the semifinals on Thursday. However, following yet another tight contest, Game 2 also came down to the final minute, but this time it was Holon which had the upper hand to ensure the series will return to the city for Game 4 next week.

A three-point play by Holon’s Scottie Reynolds with 50 seconds to play gave the hosts a 74-72 lead and Shlomi Harush clinched the win with his clutch three-pointer with 10 seconds remaining (79-75).

Reynolds ended the game with 23 points and seven assists, with D.J. Kennedy finishing with 16 points.

Bracey Wright led five Jerusalem players in double figures with 19 points. Jerusalem hosts Game 3 at Malha on Monday.

The two other home teams also triumphed on Thursday, meaning that only once in eight playoff encounters so far has the road side claimed a victory.

Hapoel Eilat recorded that win in Tel Aviv last week and is the only team to open a 2-0 lead in the quarterfinals after beating Hapoel Tel Aviv 83-78 in Israel’s southernmost city on Thursday.

Eilat began the game with a 13-2 run, but Tel Aviv fought back and moved into the lead at the start of the second quarter (23-22). However, a 10-0 Eilat surge to start the second half gave it a double-digit gap once more (52-40), one which Tel Aviv never came close to erasing.

Kevin Palmer led Eilat with 22 points and 11 rebounds, while Terrico White added 21 points.

Raviv Limonad and Carlon Brown scored 22 and 21 points, respectively, for Tel Aviv, which hosts Game 3 on Monday.

Ironi Ness Ziona tied its series with Maccabi Haifa at 1-1 on Thursday, claiming a comfortable 79-59 home victory.

Tyler Honeycutt had 20 points, six rebounds and six assists for Ness Ziona, which was in complete control after opening the second half with a 10-1 run (49-29). Mitchell Watt added 18 points and 11 boards for Ness Ziona, while Terrence Roderick had 17 points for Haifa, which hosts Game 3 on Monday.

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