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Maccabi Rishon booked a place in the BSL Final Four with a convincing 88-62 win over Bnei Hasharon in BSL Matchday 30 Thursday night.
Ryan Sydney and Omar Sneed were at their best, combining for 30 points and proving that it's going to take a great defensive effort to contain them in the playoffs.
"We came out in determined fashion tonight, playing some aggressive and strong basketball," coach Guy Goodes said after the victory.
"I am happy we made it to the postseason, [but] we will have to work hard to surprise the big teams."
Ironi Ramat Gan lost to Maccabi Tel Aviv and has officially joined Ramat Hasharon, which registered yet another loss to red-hot Maccabi Givat Shmuel, as the second team to be relegated to the National League at the end of the season.
Ironi Nahariya still needs one more win to clinch a spot in the Final Four after losing badly to Hapoel Tel Aviv.
Yehu Orland's three-pointer with 1.9 seconds left gave Elitzur Ashkelon an 82-80 home victory over Hapoel Jerusalem.
Goodes couldn't have wished for better timing to take on Bnei Hasharon, which showed up without Terrence Rencher, who was released from the team earlier in week.
Rishon opened the game with a quick 5-0 run, but host Bnei Hasharon still managed to take a 22-21 lead midway into the second quarter. Sneed found his touch in the closing minutes of the half and the visitors led 43-34 at halftime.
Lee Matthews crashed the boards in the second half and the oranges outrebounded Ya'acov Geno's team to ensure their participation in the Final Four.
Maccabi Tel Aviv 96,
Ironi Ramat Gan 72
In the absence of the injured Anthony Parker, Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Pini Gershon started Kirk Penney at small forward and the result was an inaccurate and slow game.
Ramat Gan took full advantage to take a 25-19 lead at the end of the first quarter. But the reigning champions stepped up their defense in the second period and took a 43-38 lead at halftime, thanks to some brilliant play by Maceo Baston in the post.
The second half was completely dominated by the yellow-and-blue and Ramat Gan fell behind 57-71 at the end of the third quarter, making the last period meaningless.
Maccabi finished the game strongly and Baston displayed an array of spectacular dunks, finishing with 15 points. Willie Solomon added 19 points in a strong second half, including some key defensive plays.
Hapoel Tel Aviv 85,
Ironi Nahariya 63
Tel Aviv took a narrow early lead, 7-5, but visiting Nahariya outplayed the hosts in the first half to go to the locker room ahead 46-41.
Effi Birenboim's team came out strong in the third quarter and held Nahariya pointless for three long minutes, turning the deficit into a 64-54 lead entering the final period.
Otis Hill had a terrible outing with only 13 points and fouled out halfway into the fourth quarter, enabling Tel Aviv to secure the win at the Nokia Arena with relative ease.
Givat Shmuel 102,
Ramat Hasharon 94
Ofer Berkovic's Givat Shmuel had no problems in improving the team's winning streak to nine games, defeating hapless Ramat Hasharon, which has already been relegated. Timmy Bowers was virtually unstoppable and led the visitors with 18 points.