Maccabi Rishon Lezion guard Isaiah Swann had 18 points in his team’s 77-71 win over Ironi Ness Ziona Monday night .
(photo credit: ODED KARNI)
Maccabi Rishon Lezion edged closer to securing home-court advantage in the BSL playoffs on Monday night, while Maccabi Haifa and Bnei Herzliya both recorded significant wins to boost their postseason hopes.
Rishon strengthened its hold on third place with a 77-71 win over Ironi Ness Ziona, improving to 16-13 as the only BSL team to have played 29 games.
The tight contest was ultimately decided from the free-throw line, with Rishon hitting all six of its attempts from the charity stripe in the final minute.
Dominique Johnson led Rishon with 21 points, with Anthony Goods scoring 18 points for Ness Ziona, which is now tied in sixth place with Herzliya, Haifa and Hapoel Eilat at 13-15.
The top eight sides will advance to the quarterfinals, with the first four teams to have home-court advantage.
The battle for playoff qualification looks set to go down to the wire, with Haifa and Herzliya’s wins on Monday making the race even tighter than it already was.
Haifa had lost its previous two games away from home by an average 20 points but it crushed Eilat 97-66 on the road on Monday.
The Greens opened a double-digit gap in the first period (22-10) and were never going to be caught after outscoring the hosts 32-12 in the second quarter.
Ike Ofoegbu had 21 points and seven assists for Haifa, with Afik Nissim and Niv Berkowitz finishing with 12 points each for Eilat.
Herzliya beat Ironi Nahariya 104-87 to move up to sixth place, ahead of Haifa, Ness Ziona and Eilat by virtue of their head-to-head records.
The teams were separated by just two points (44-42) at the break, but Herzliya remained in front throughout the second half to claim a crucial win.
Yuval Naimi had 28 points and seven assists for the winners, with Josh Selby adding 23 points. Mark Lyons led Nahariya with 24 points.