Hapoel Tel Aviv guard Raviv Limonad (right) had 12 points and nine assists in his team’s 92-78 win over Tal Dan (left) and Ironi Ness Ziona last night at Hadar Yosef Arena..
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Hapoel Tel Aviv returned to winning ways in timely fashion on Tuesday night, beating Maccabi Rishon Lezion 80-69 at the Drive-In Arena to snap a four-game losing streak.
Hapoel was well placed to go on and clinch the No. 3 seed in the BSL playoffs before its recent losing streak, but first and foremost needed a victory on Tuesday to remain on track for a playoff berth.
Tel Aviv lost its way since the passing of team manager Uri Shelef last month, winning its first game following his funeral but losing its next four contests by an average 14.0 points.
A game against the in-form Rishon, which climbed up to third place with five wins from its previous six games, provided a perfect test of Hapoel’s aspirations, and Oded Katash’s men replied with their best performance in over a month to improve to 15-15.
“The timing of the crisis put us under a lot of pressure,” said Katash. “Hopefully this win can inject some energy into the club and the players.”
Yancy Gates paced Hapoel with 20 points and six rebounds, with Dijon Thompson, Raviv Limonad and Jonathan Skjoldebrand scoring 13 points each.
Jackie Carmichael and Dominique Johnson netted 22 and 21 points, respectively, for Rishon, which fell to 17-14, but Isaiah Swann shot a shocking 0-of-14 from the field.
Skjoldebrand’s three-pointer capped Tel Aviv’s 12-2 run to start the night, but Rishon fought back and moved into the lead midway through the second quarter (38-37) with a Johnson triple. The hosts had a one-point edge (43-42) entering the break and seized control by holding Rishon to 10 points in the third quarter, establishing a double-digit gap and not allowing the visitors any closer than six points for the remainder of the contest.
Week 30 action will be completed with five more games on Thursday.
Maccabi Tel Aviv will look to snap its five-game losing streak over all competitions when it hosts Bnei Herzliya, Ironi Ness Ziona visits Hapoel Holon, Hapoel Jerusalem welcomes Hapoel Gilboa/Galil, Maccabi Ashdod faces Maccabi Haifa and Ironi Nahariya makes the long trip to Hapoel Eilat.
Only two games currently separate Holon in fourth place and Herzliya and Ness Ziona, which are tied for ninth, with only the top eight to advance to the quarterfinal playoffs