Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Joe Alexander.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Maccabi Tel Aviv picked up some much-needed confidence on Saturday night, beating Maccabi Rishon Lezion 88-74 on the road to boost its chances of a top-four finish.
After suffering its sixth defeat from the last seven games when it lost to Ironi Nahariya last Thursday, Maccabi outscored Rishon 32-18 in the first quarter and controlled the remainder of the encounter to improve to 19-12.
Joe Alexander scored a careerhigh 25 points for Maccabi, while Devin Smith added 15 points. Idan Zalmanson and Charles Thomas had 15 points each for Rishon, which fell to 16-15 after having its five-game winning streak snapped.
Hapoel Tel Aviv’s season is heading to an early finish after it fell to a fifth straight defeat on Friday, losing 80-65 to Hapoel Gilboa/Galil at the Drive-In Arena in Roei Hagay’s first game in charge. Hagay replaced Rami Hadar, who resigned after less than four months at the helm.
Tel Aviv dropped to a 13-17 record, two games back of Maccabi Haifa in eighth place and playoff qualification, with three games remaining in the regular season.
Tel Aviv led by five points (31-26) after one period, but scored only 34 more points in the remainder of the contest.
Jason Siggers had 19 points for Gilboa, which improved to 13-17. Mark Lyons scored 16 points for Hapoel.
“In our profession you can’t give up,” said Hagay. “We shouldn’t be thinking about reaching the playoffs, but of how we steady the ship and start playing some good basketball.”
On Sunday, Hapoel Holon looks to make it three wins in a row and move up to first place ahead of Hapoel Eilat for at least for 24 hours when it visits Ironi Nahariya. Holon and Eilat both have a 20-10 record, with the latter in first place as it owns the head-to-head tiebreaker, winning all three of their regular season meetings.
Nahariya has won six of its past seven games to improve to 16-14 and can clinch a playoff berth with another victory on Sunday.