Eilat edges Holon to close in on summit

Katash’s men claim eighth consecutive home win, boosting hopes of finishing regular season in first.

Bnei Herzliya forward Karam Mashour (right) had 15 points and nine rebounds in last night’s 75-60 win over Bnei Herzliya and Tomer Ginat.  (photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)
Bnei Herzliya forward Karam Mashour (right) had 15 points and nine rebounds in last night’s 75-60 win over Bnei Herzliya and Tomer Ginat.
(photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)
The battle for the No. 1 seed in the BSL playoffs became a four-horse race on Wednesday after Hapoel Eilat defeated Hapoel Holon 84-81 in overtime.
Holon remains in first place in the standings, but fell to an 18-9 record, half-a-game ahead of Maccabi Tel Aviv (17-9), which visits Hapoel Jerusalem on Saturday, only one game in front of Eilat (17-10) and two games better than Bnei Herzliya (16-11), which defeated Hapoel Tel Aviv 75-60 on Wednesday.
Eilat has been the hottest team in the league over recent months, winning for the 11th time in its past 13 games on Wednesday. Eliat completed a regular season sweep of Holon and also holds the head-to-head tiebreaker against Maccabi Tel Aviv, something which could prove to be crucial should the southerners end the regular season with an identical record to one of their main rivals.
Oded Katash’s side registered its eighth straight home win on Wednesday, forcing overtime despite trailing by four points with just over 10 seconds to play in regulation before eking out the victory.
There was little to separate the teams throughout the night. With 2.3 seconds to play in the fourth quarter and with his team trailing by two points, Afik Nissim intentionally missed his second free-throw attempt and teammate Will Daniels grabbed the offensive rebound. He was fouled with half a second remaining on the clock and hit both of his free throws to force overtime, which was just as tight.
Nissim found himself on the line in the decisive seconds yet again in overtime, but this time he netted both of his attempts with 2.4 seconds to play, and Eilat breathed a huge sigh of relief after Tu Holloway’s half-court shot at the buzzer was a few centimeters short, going out off the rim.
Nissim led Eilat with 16 points, while Holloway netted 26 points for Holon.
Earlier Wednesday, Herzliya strengthened its position in the top four after defeating Hapoel Tel Aviv 75-60. Herzliya led by as many as 13 points (31- 18) in the second quarter, but Tel Aviv responded with a 14-0 run to take the lead. The hosts held a one-point edge (36-35) at the break and seized control with a 13-3 surge, opening a 53-44 advantage. Tel Aviv came no closer than seven points until the finish, falling to 13-14 with a defeat that could prove costly in the battle for playoff qualification.
Taurean Green had 16 points for Herzliya, with Karam Mashour adding 15 points and nine rebounds. Raviv Limonad scored 16 points fro Hapoel.
BSL action continues on Thursday.
Haifa (14-12) hosts Maccabi Ashdod (10-16), while Maccabi Rishon Lezion (12-14) looks to build momentum when it goes to Ironi Nahariya (13-13).
On Friday, Kiryat Gat (4-22) hosts Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (11-15), which is also still alive in the playoff race. Kiryat Gat is six games back of Ashdod and could find itself already relegated this week should it lose or Ashdod win.