The battle against BSL relegation will go down to the wire next Wednesday after rock-bottom Maccabi Ashdod moved tied with Bnei Herzliya following another dramatic night of action on Thursday.
Ashdod beat Ironi Ness Ziona 79-76 to improve to a 7-21 record, while Herzliya lost a second straight game in overtime, dropping to an 88-86 defeat at Barak Netanya.
The 83-72 win over Ashdod at the start of last week meant Herzliya only required a single victory from its final three games or a single Ashdod loss from its remaining contests to secure its top-flight status.
However, Herzliya will enter its final game of the season in serious danger of being demoted, with a defeat against Hapoel Eilat on Wednesday combined with an Ashdod victory over Hapoel Holon to relegate Muli Katzurin’s team.
Herzliya took a two-point lead (79-77) into the final minute of regulation on Thursday, but Netanya, which had nothing to play for, forced overtime and made the most of Herzliya’s disastrous finish to clinch the win.
Dawan Robinson led Netanya (9-19) with 24 points, with Rashaun Freeman adding 22 points and 10 rebounds. Aviram Zelikovic had 20 points and seven rebounds for the sorry Herzliya, which has lost 15 of its past 17 games but still holds the tiebreaker over Ashdod, meaning its fate remains in its hands.
Ashdod eked out a win over Ness Ziona thanks to R.T.
Guinn’s 23 points and nine boards, with Mitchell Watt finishing with 26 points and 12 rebounds for Ness Ziona (15- 13).
Ness Ziona will face defending- champion Maccabi Haifa in the quarterfinal playoffs after Haifa (18-9) wrapped up the No.
3 seed with an 85-79 triumph over Hapoel Tel Aviv (15-12) at Romema Arena on Thursday.
Hapoel will be the No. 4 seed and will play Hapoel Eilat (18- 10) in the best-of-five quarterfinals, which begin on April 30.
Haifa seized control on Thursday with a 20-6 run to end the first half (46-31) and never looked back. Donta Smith had 20 points for Haifa, which notched its third win in a row after also overcoming Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem. Brian Randle added 15 points for the Greens, while Carlon Brown netted 25 points for Hapoel, with Raviv Limonad finishing with 14 points, the first time he has scored less than 15 points all season.
Also Thursday, Hapoel Holon (14-14) secured the No. 7 seed with a 75-67 win over Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (13-15), which will end the regular season in eighth place.
Guni Izraeli and Laurence Bowers had 18 points each for Holon, with Gerald Robinson scoring 17 for Gilboa, which is on course to face Maccabi Tel Aviv in the playoffs.
Only a Maccabi loss to Haifa on April 28 combined with a Hapoel Jerusalem win over Hapoel Tel Aviv next Thursday will give Jerusalem the No. 1 seed.
Any other combination of results will see Maccabi end the regular season in first place and play Gilboa in the quarters while Jerusalem will come up against Holon.