Hapoel Holon forward Glen Rice Jr. (left) drives to the basket against Ironi Nahariya defender Igor Nesterenko (18) during BSL action.
(photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)
Hapoel Holon closed to within a single game of BSL leader Maccabi Tel Aviv with an eighth win from its last nine contests in local league action on Wednesday, while Hapoel Gilboa/Galil strengthened its position in the top four with a fourth straight victory.
Holon entered the encounter with Ironi Nahariya leading the league with an average of 89.7 points per game and improved on that with another sensational offensive display on the way to a 98-90 triumph.
Holon, which moved to an 8-3 record, hit 18-of-29 two-point attempts (62%), 12-of-23 shots from beyond the arc (52%) and 26-of-29 free throws (90%), while registering 25 assists.
Nevertheless, it was Nahariya which led at the break (52-49) and Holon wouldn’t seize control until it scored 22 of the final 30 points of the third quarter to take a six-point advantage (77-71) into the closing frame. Nahariya cut the deficit to three points (91-88), but the hosts wouldn’t relinquish the lead.
The league’s leading scorer, Glen Rice Jr., finished with 25 points for Holon, with Corey Walden adding 20 points and Tamir Blatt registering 12 points and 10 assists.
Alex Young had 21 points for the visitors, with Igor Nesterenko finishing with a career-high 20 points for Nahariya, which fell to 5-6 with its fourth defeat from the past five games.
Gilboa/Galil has been one of the league’s pleasant surprises this season, winning for the sixth time in the past seven games to improve to 7-4 on Wednesday with an 88-83 victory at Maccabi Rishon Lezion.
Gilboa ended the first quarter with a 12-2 run to open an eightpoint gap (22-14). The visitors led by as many as 21 points before Rishon scored the final six points of the first half (46-31) and the first four of the third period to close to within 11 points.
Rishon continued to eat away at the deficit in the third frame and Avi Ben-Shimol’s three-pointer early in the fourth quarter completed the comeback (67-66).
The teams entered the final two minutes tied at 80-80 and Rishon looked to be well placed following Yaniv Solomon’s triple (83-80). The hosts wouldn’t score again though, with Zach LeDay netting the go-ahead basket with 51 seconds to play as part of a three-point play (85-83).
LeDay, who was named as the BSL’s MVP for December, registered his third straight double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds, taking his averages over his team’s four-game winning streak to 21.3 points and 13.5 rebounds.
J’Covan Brown had 21 points for Gilboa, which last lost against Hapoel Eilat back in November 19. Solomon finished with 20 points and 12 boards for Rishon, which fell to 5-6.
On Thursday, Hapoel Jerusalem (7-3), which released forward Austin Daye on Wednesday, welcomes Maccabi Haifa (4-6), while Ironi Ness Ziona (3-7) hosts Hapoel Eilat (4-6) and Bnei Herzliya (2-8) visits Maccabi Ashdod (3-7).
Maccabi Tel Aviv, which lost to Hapoel Tel Aviv on Tuesday, announced that Norris Cole will be out for between 2-3 weeks with a muscle tear.