(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Monday night's encounter might not have been the last game of the BSL season, but don't tell that to Hapoel Holon or Galil/Gilboa.
With both teams one game behind fourth-placed Bnei Hasharon, this meeting carried the weight that comes with competing for that coveted home court advantage in the end of season playoffs.
In the end, the defending champions Hapoel won decidedly over the less-experienced Gilboa, 64-58.
Holon point guard Luis Flores led the team with 15 points.
It was a back-and-forth affair throughout the duration of the game.
Holon (9-7) led by seven points in the second quarter, but could not hold off Galil from climbing back to a 34-33 lead at the end of the first half.
The team from the North (8-8) looked strong coming out of the half and took a five-point lead late in the third quarter thanks to foul trouble from Holon.
Yet the slow pace in the second half prevented the team in green and white from taking control of the game.
With 4:08 left, Hapoel took the lead and held off Galil to win the game.
Galil shooting guard Brian Roberts drained a three-pointer to cut the lead once again, but the effort could not stop Holon from splitting the fourth seed with Hasharon.
The teams in the second game played on Monday were also playing for something, although not necessarily for a Final Four spot.
Ironi Nahariya and Ironi Ramat Gan came into the game knowing that a loss would further hurt their chances of staying in the BSL. But it was Nahariya which would come out with a crucial win, 81-74.
Nahariya (7-9) stretched its lead to 18 points two minutes into the third quarter, but allowed Ramat Gan (6-10) to come back late in the game.
The last-ditch effort was not enough to overcome the attack from the team in blue and white, despite closing the lead within single-digits. Nahariya will not have much time to relish in its win as it will face the third-placed Maccabi Haifa Heat next week.
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