Mac Haifa continues BSL hot streak

Greens grind out tight victory over Gilboa/Galil; Mac TA dominates Rishon Lezion.

February 22, 2010 06:12
3 minute read.
Maccabi Haifa big man Ido Kozikaro (center) battle

Maccabi haifa ido kozikaro 311. (photo credit: BSL)

Maccabi Haifa took an important step towards clinching a top-four finish in the BSL on Sunday, defeating Hapoel Gilboa/Galil 80-78 at Romema.

Haifa may not play the prettiest style of basketball, but Avi Ashkenazi’s team keeps pulling out the victories and has now won nine of its last 11 league games.

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Gilboa thrashed Haifa by 35 points at the start of the season, but after beginning the campaign with impressive basketball and a 9-2 record, it has now lost three consecutive games and coach Oded Katash has plenty to mull over ahead of the stretch-run to the postseason.

Also Sunday, Maccabi Tel Aviv crushed Maccabi Rishon Lezion 105-74, Barak Netanya won 90-77 at Hapoel Afula and Ironi Ramat Gan claimed its second straight victory under new coach Yaniv Burger, beating Ironi Nahariya 86-80.

Ironi Ashkelon welcomes Bnei Hasharon on Monday in a repeat of last week’s cup semifinal won by Bnei Hasharon.

At Romema, the visitors pulled in front early, but Haifa scored nine of the last 10 points of the first period and the score was tied at 19-19. An extremely tight second quarter ended in a slender Haifa lead (48-45) and the hosts took a two-point margin (62-60) into the final 10 minutes.

The game seemed destined to end in nail-biting fashion, but poor decision making combined with some good defensive work by Haifa completely derailed Gilboa’s offense and the hosts opened a 75-65 gap with four minutes to play after Richard Roby’s basket. Gilboa MACCABI HAIFA big man Ido Kozikaro (center) battles with Hapoel Gilboa/Galil’s Elishay Kadir (left) and Isaiah Swann during last night’s BSL clash at Romema, won by the Greens 80-78. could not come back from that and Haifa claimed yet another hard fought victory.

Jason Rich scored 18 points for Haifa, which also got 17 points each from Amit Ben-David and Roby, with Ido Kozikaro contributing 14 points.

Brian Randle had 18 points for Gilboa, which needs to return to winning ways quickly if it is to clinch home-court advantage in the playoffs.

In Tel Aviv, the hosts only led 25-21 after 10 minutes, but opened a double-digit in the second period, leading 47-36 at the break after Andrew Wisniewski’s basket.

The lead would mushroom in the second half and Tel Aviv cruised to its eighth victory by 20 points or more in the BSL this season.

Raviv Limonad led five Tel Aviv players in double-figures with 20 points, with Chuck Eidson adding 18 and Stephane Lasme scoring 14.

Larry O’Bannon scored 21 points for Rishon, which has lost three straight games.

“This game has given us nothing ahead of Wednesday’s Euroleague encounter at Efes Pilsen,” said Tel Aviv coach Pini Gershon.

In Afula, Netanya went on a run at the end of the first quarter and led 29-21 after 10 minutes.

Danilo Pinnock scored the first points of the second period to give the visitors a double-digit margin, but Afula came roaring back and Justin Dentmon’s threepointer midway through the quarter tied the score at 35-35.

The score was still tied at the break (4141) and with 10 minutes to play Netanya was ahead 64-62. However, the visitors dominated the fourth quarter and surged in front to what eventually proved to be a comfortable victory.

Pinnock had 21 points for Netanya, with Marco Killingsworth adding 17 points and nine rebounds and Shmulik Brenner contributing 15 points and five assists.

Nitzan Hanochi led five Afula players in double-digits with 17 points, but that didn’t help the team from falling to its sixth defeat in seven games.

In Ramat Gan, the visitors opened an early double-figure lead, but were only ahead by four points at the end of the first quarter (27-23). Ramat Gan ended the first half with a 16-3 run to lead 4941 at the interval and led by as many as 19 points in the third quarter (69-50).

Nahariya ate away at the margin in the fourth period, but despite closing to within four points with one minute remaining could not complete a comeback and dropped to a ninth defeat in 10 games.

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