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Ironi Nahariya needs just a single victory from its remaining two regular season games to clinch a playoff berth, after defeating Hapoel Jerusalem 82-67 on Monday night.
Nahariya very nearly suffered a financial meltdown in recent months, but will now in all likelihood play in the BSL playoffs as Monday's result leaves it needing just one win from its remaining games against the league's two bottom sides Maccabi Rishon Lezion and Ironi Kiryat Ata.
"The players have shown remarkable character and also played some good basketball," Nahariya coach Ya'acov Jino said. "I was slightly skeptical of our chances to reach the playoffs before the game, but we took a big step towards qualifying tonight."
Ron Lewis led Nahariya with 29 points, hitting four of six shots from beyond the arc.
Phillip Ricci scored 21 points, with Yogev Ohayon adding 15 points and five steals.
Sharon Sasson led Hapoel with 14 points, but Jerusalem was always going to struggle with Timmy Bowers scoring just two points in 34 minutes on court.
Jerusalem could have clinched second-position in the standings with a victory, but far more worrying for coach Guy Goodes will be the fact that his side has now lost four straight road games and has done so by an average 17 points.
Nahariya seized control of Monday's encounter in the closing minutes of the first period, opening a 19-10 lead after 10 minutes.
Nitzan Hanochi's three-pointer gave the hosts a double-digit margin (25-15) and Nahariya continued to extend the gap until the interval, leading 39-23 at the break after a Lewis basket.
An 8-0 Jerusalem run to open the second half brought the visitors within eight points and even though Nahariya quickly regained its comfortable lead, Hapoel ended the quarter better and trailed just 61-54 with 10 minutes to play. A Sasson basket closed the margin to just five points (68-63) at the start of the fourth period, but Nahariya never lost its cool and built on its lead on the way to a crucial league win.
Also Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv claimed the youth cup for a third straight season, defeating Emek Izrael 71-64.