Hapoel Eilat guard Pierria Henry (15) is providing a positive all-around contribution this season, averaging 10.2 points, 6.2 assists and 5.2 rebounds entering tonight’s game against Maccabi Kiryat Gat.
(photo credit: ERAN LUF)
Hapoel Eilat can clinch the No. 1 seed in the BSL playoffs on Thursday with a win over rock-bottom Maccabi Kiryat Gat.
Eilat moved one game clear of Hapoel Holon by improving to 21-10 with an 86-84 win over Maccabi Haifa on Monday, registering a club record ninth straight victory. Oded Katash’s team recorded its 15th win from the past 17 games and won’t be expecting to encounter too many problems at home against Kiryat Gat, which was already relegated to the National League weeks ago.
Eilat has won 10 straight home games, a streak stretching back to December.
Eilat, which visits Ironi Nahariya in its final regular season game next Monday, needs just one more win to ensure it will finish ahead of Holon as it owns the tiebreaker between the sides by winning all three of their regular season meetings.
The top eight in the standings will advance to the best-of-five quarterfinals, the winners of which will progress to the Final Four.
The season-ending tournament will be played either in Tel Aviv’s Yad Eliyahu Arena or the Jerusalem Arena, with the team to finish the regular season in first place to pick the host venue.
Eilat’s management is leaning towards selecting the Jerusalem Arena as it would be cheaper to transport fans to the capital.
However, a final decision will only be made at the end of the regular season as Katash and his staff may prefer to play in Yad Eliyahu should Hapoel Jerusalem finish in fourth place, which would mean it would face Eilat in the Final Four semis should both teams come through the quarterfinals.
Holon can only finish in first place should it win its remaining games, against Maccabi Rishon Lezion on Friday and Hapoel Gilboa/Galil next Monday, and Eilat loses two in a row.
Holon needs two victories to secure the No. 2 seed, with Maccabi Tel Aviv one game back and owning the head-to-head breaker.
Maccabi hosts Gilboa on Thursday, looking to build on its encouraging performance at Maccabi Rishon Lezion earlier this week.
Gilboa (14-17) is one of three teams, with Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Tel Aviv, battling for the eighth and final ticket to the playoffs.
Maccabi Haifa (15-16) currently sits in eighth and only needs one more win, or for Tel Aviv and Gilboa to lose a game, to lock up a playoff berth. Haifa visits Jerusalem (17-14) on Thursday before ending its regular season at home against Hapoel Tel Aviv (13-18).
Should Haifa lose both its games, Gilboa and Hapoel could leapfrog it.
The most complicated scenario would see Gilboa beat Maccabi Tel Aviv, Haifa lose to Jerusalem and Hapoel defeat Maccabi Ashdod on Thursday.
In that case, the final playoff ticket may end up being decided on basket differential on the last day of the regular season.
Also Thursday, Bnei Herzliya hosts Ironi Nahariya in a crucial clash in the fight for a top-four finish and home-court advantage in the quarterfinals.
Jerusalem currently sits in fourth based on head-to-head records, but is tied with both Herzliya and Nahariya at 17-14.
Nahariya has won seven of eight games, while Herzliya is coming off a disappointing defeat to Kiryat Gat.