roni Ness Ziona forward Tal Dan (right) will need to help his team to a win over Hapoel Jerusalem tonight and hope Maccabi Kiryat Gat loses to Maccabi Rishon Lezion in order to extend the team’s stay in the BSL for another year..
(photo credit: LIRON MOLDOVAN/BSL)
The battle against relegation to the National League and the final three matchups in the BSL playoffs will be decided on Sunday night when the regular season comes to a close.
Hapoel Jerusalem (26-6) clinched the top seed in the playoffs weeks ago and will host No. 8 seed Hapoel Tel Aviv (15-18) in Game 1 of their best-of-five quarterfinal series on Thursday. By finishing the regular season in first place, Jerusalem also won the right to host the season-ending Final Four tournament at its home arena.
Maccabi Tel Aviv (23-9) will be the No. 2 seed, Maccabi Haifa (19-14) the No. 3 and Ironi Nahariya (18-14) the No. 4, with all three to have home-court advantage in the quarters. However, they will only find out on Sunday which teams they will be hosting in their series openers on Thursday.
The winner of Sunday’s game between Hapoel Eilat (16-16) and Bnei Herzliya (15- 17) will finish the season in fifth place and face Nahariya for a place in the Final Four.
Should Herzliya win, Eilat will be the No. 6 seed and next face Haifa, while Maccabi Rishon Lezion (15-17) will finish in seventh place and come up against Maccabi Tel Aviv. If Eilat triumphs, Herzliya could drop to seventh should Rishon also beat Kiryat Gat to move up to sixth.
Kiryat Gat (11-21) is playing for its top-flight status, needing a win to secure another season in the BSL. Kiryat Gat sits one place above rock-bottom Ironi Ness Ziona (10-22), which after four consecutive defeats has to beat Jerusalem and hope Kiryat Gat loses to avoid finishing in last place and being relegated.
“Jerusalem is clearly a better team than us, but we have no choice but to beat them,” said Ness Ziona coach Ofer Berkowitz Jerusalem has won 11 straight games, with its last BSL defeat coming back in February. Jerusalem announced last week that Israeli guard Yotam Halperin has signed a two-year contract extension which is set to keep him at the club until he retires. “I’m really happy that I’ll be ending my career at Hapoel,” said the 32-yearold team captain, who started his career at Maccabi Tel Aviv and moved to Jerusalem three years ago. “We still have goals for this season, and in the coming years, and I’ll do my all so that we can achieve them.”
Also Sunday, Maccabi Tel Aviv visits Hapoel Holon (12- 20) and Nahariya welcomes Maccabi Ashdod (13-19).
On Saturday, Hapoel Tel Aviv beat Maccabi Haifa 90-75 behind 22 points from Raviv Limonad.