Maccabi Ashdod’s Ivan Aska.
(photo credit: ODED KARNI/BSL)
Maccabi Haifa claimed an important win over Ironi Nahariya in the battle for a playoff berth on Sunday night, while Maccabi Ashdod maintained a two-game cushion over the relegation zone.
Haifa improved to a 14-15 record with an 86-78 win over Nahariya (11-18), its sixth victory in the past eight games.
Nahariya took a one-point gap (45-44) into the second half and the contest wasn’t decided until the final five minutes, with Will Graves and Dagan Yavzuri securing the win for the Greens.
Ike Ofoegbu had 27 points, eight rebounds and five assists for Haifa, which has still got to face both Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem during its last four regular season games.
Frank Robinson finished with 20 points for Nahariya, which will need to bridge a two-game deficit in the final four games to sneak into the top eight and clinch a playoff berth.
Herzliya (13-16) currently occupies eighth place after losing 102-97 to Ashdod (10-19).
Ashdod reestablished a twogame gap over rock-bottom Hapoel Gilboa/Galil in the battle against relegation after holding its composure better than Herzliya in the closing stages.
Ivan Aska led Ashdod with 32 points, while Josh Selby scored 22 points for Herzliya.
Just two games currently separate six teams situated between fourth and ninth places, all but ensuring the race for the playoffs will go down to the wire.
On Monday, Ironi Ness Ziona will aim to move tied with Herzliya with a surprise win over Hapoel Jerusalem.
Jerusalem (21-7) has won 11 of its past 12 contests and can close within two games of league-leader Maccabi Tel Aviv with another victory.
Meanwhile, the Israel Basketball Association announced on Sunday that Maccabi center Sofoklis Schortsanitis will face a disciplinary hearing on Thursday, after being ejected late in the first half of Saturday’s humbling defeat at Hapoel Gilboa/ Galil for elbowing Marcus Lewis. The Greek center is set to be suspended for multiple games, with Maccabi likely to hand him a heavy fine following the IBA’s ruling.
Sofo’s chances of remaining at Maccabi for another season seemed slim even before Saturday’s developments and now it looks to be all but certain he will not be part of the yellow-andblue in 2015/16.