Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Devin Smith .
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Maccabi Tel Aviv fell two games behind BSL leader Hapoel Jerusalem on Sunday night, suffering a humbling 96-86 defeat at Maccabi Ashdod to drop to 11-5.
Maccabi entered the game on the back of two straight wins in Eurocup action, as well as a victory over Maccabi Haifa in the State Cup quarterfinals. However, it lost its second consecutive BSL game on Sunday after also falling at the hands of Hapoel Jerusalem in its previous league contest.
Ashdod opened the night with a 13-2 run, but the hosts were ahead by just two points (50-48) at the break despite controlling much of the first half.
However, Ashdod pulled ahead once more in the third quarter, leading by eight points (67-59) with 10 minutes to play.
Tel Aviv coach Zan Tabak was ejected with 41 seconds to play in the frame after confronting the referee and Ashdod led by as many as 18 points (84-66) before surviving a late Maccabi run.
Charles Thomas had 21 points and seven rebounds for Ness Ziona, which improved to 7-10. Sylven Landesberg scored 15 points for Tel Aviv.
Elsewhere, Ironi Ness Ziona beat Hapoel Holon 87-80 in a significant contest in the battle against relegation. Holon snapped a six-game losing streak with last week’s win over Maccabi Rishon Lezion, but couldn’t connect two league victories for the first time this season on Sunday, dropping to a league-worst 4-12 record after being outscored 27-12 in the second period and struggling to fight back.
Ness Ziona improved to 6-10 to move two games clear of Holon and give itself some breathing space from the relegation zone.
Sundiata Gaines, who only joined the team last week, led Ness Ziona with 24 points, including seven three-pointers, and seven rebounds on his debut.
“My teammates embraced me and we had a great week of practice and we came together as a team,” said Gaines. “I always give 100 percent but my coaches told me this was an important game going forward. I want to bring anything the team needs. I’m a player capable of doing it all.
“Israel is a great country, the fans are lovely and the league is a good pace league. I’m excited and I’m just happy our team got the win today.”
Tal Karpelesz added 15 points for Ness Ziona, which led by 15 points (48-33) at the break and allowed Holon within three points in the third quarter, but no closer.
Ramel Bradley had 21 points for Holon.