Mac TA back in 1st after rout of Kiryat Gat

Monkey off yellow-and-blue’s back as slump snapped • Tight race for playoffs shaping up.

April 27, 2017 00:34
2 minute read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv guard Gal Mekel (shooting) scored a team-high 14 points in last night’ 84-65 win ov

Maccabi Tel Aviv guard Gal Mekel (shooting) scored a team-high 14 points in last night’ 84-65 win over Maccabi Kiryat Gat, a victory that propelled the yellow-and-blue back atop the BSL standings. (photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)

Maccabi Tel Aviv claimed its first win in over a month on Wednesday night, beating rock-bottom Maccabi Kiryat Gat 84-65 to snap a club record eight-game losing streak over all competitions.

Tel Aviv had lost its five previous games in the BSL, also a club record, almost costing coach Ainars Bagatskis his job. The Latvian ultimately remained at the helm, with differences in the club’s fractured ownership regarding the wisdom of parting ways with another coach, which would have been the third this season, and the right candidate to take his place resulting in a stalemate.

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Maccabi held an impromptu three-day training camp in Ein Gedi in the hope of practicing without distractions, but that also proved to be far from straightforward.

Forward Quincy Miller was sent home on Monday after bringing his girlfriend to what was supposed to be a closed camp.

Miller didn’t receive any additional punishment and played on Wednesday, scoring seven points in 11 minutes.

There was further good news for Maccabi, with guard Yogev Ohayon returning to action, finishing with nine points and five assists in 19 minutes. The yellow-andblue is also looking forward to welcoming back two more players.

D.J. Seeley could play against Ironi Nahariya next Wednesday, while Andrew Goudelock, who hasn’t played for the team in the BSL for over two months due to injury, expected to return to the court during May.

Gal Mekel led Maccabi with 14 points.

“I was really desperate to get back and it was very important to me that we get this win and played well,” said Ohayon. “We still aren’t playing great, but this was a step in the right direction.”

Maccabi, which improved to an 18-11 record, couldn’t have asked for a better opponent against which to bounce back on Wednesday. Kiryat Gat had already lost all hope of avoiding relegation to the National League and suffered its 14th defeat from the past 15 games to fall to 4-25.

Justin Carter had 19 points for Kiryat Gat, which was playing without Brandon Bowman and Curtis Kelly.

BSL action continues with four more games on Thursday.

After combining two straight wins in the BSL for the first time in almost three months, Hapoel Jerusalem (15-13) aims to make it three in a row when it hosts Bnei Herzliya (16-12). A Jerusalem victory would take it above Herzliya up to fourth place, which leads to home-court advantage in the quarterfinal playoffs.

Jerusalem has yet to even secure its place in the playoffs, holding a two-game lead over Hapoel Tel Aviv (13-15). Tel Aviv enters Wednesday’s game against leader Hapoel Eilat (18- 10) on the back of a season-long three-game losing streak.

Eilat has won 12 of its past 14 games, including its last six, to move up to first place. Eilat hasn’t lost at home since last December, a run of eight consecutive wins.

Maccabi Rishon Lezion and Ironi Nahariya are in seventh and eighth, respectively, with matching 14-14 records.

Rishon hosts Hapoel Gilboa/ Galil (12-16) on Thursday and Nahariya faces Maccabi Ashdod, while on Friday Hapoel Holon (18- 10) visits Maccabi Haifa (15-13).

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