Eilat pulls off overtime upset of Mac TA

Katash’s club now faces second-place showdown finale with Mac Haifa; Ashkelon going down.

Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Hapoel Eilat  370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Hapoel Eilat 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Hapoel Eilat recorded its first win over Maccabi Tel Aviv in 15 years on Sunday night, claiming an 89-82 overtime victory in an electric atmosphere in Israel’s southernmost city.
Eilat improved to 17-9 to remain in second place in the BSL standings, but will still need to defeat Maccabi Haifa on the road next week in its final regular season game to secure the No. 2 seed in the playoffs.
Haifa beat Maccabi Rishon Lezion 76-69 on Sunday to move to 16-10 and another win over Eilat next week will see it leapfrog the southerners on a tiebreaker.
Eilat led by as many as nine points (36-27) in the first half, but Maccabi scored seven of the final eight points of the second period to close within a single possession (37-34) at the break.
The yellow-and-blue grabbed the lead midway through the third quarter and looked to be heading towards another win until Larry O’Bannon hit a clutch three-pointer with 19 seconds to play to tie the score at 74-74 and force overtime.
Eilat controlled the extra period, with a Scotty Hopson dunk with 1:34 remaining opening a six-point gap (84- 78) from which Maccabi could not return.
“The game today was a lot of fun,” said Hopson. “We’ve had close games with them all season. They are one of the best teams in Europe and we won the game defensively, stopping them down the stretch.”
Hopson ended the night with 28 points and nine rebounds, while Avi Ben-Shimol scored 16.
“I think our fans and team deserve a win like this,” said Eilat coach and former Maccabi boss Oded Katash.
“We showed a lot of character in the closing minutes.
This is another win which makes this season special, but we still have plenty of more work to do to succeed in the playoffs.”
David Logan led five Maccabi players in double-figures with 19 points.
“This was a good practice game for us,” said Maccabi coach David Blatt, who amassed an amazing 66-3 record in local league and cup play in his previous two seasons with Maccabi, but has already lost four times in BSL action this term.
“These games are a good opportunity for us to give some players a chance and to rest others, like Devin Smith tonight. Winning the game didn’t really mean that much to us as we secured the No. 1 seed long ago.”
Elsewhere, Haifa required an 11-0 surge to end the game to edge Rishon on the road and snap a three-game losing streak.
Pat Calathes had 22 points for Haifa (16-10), with Adrian Uter finishing with 16 points and 12 rebounds for Rishon (11-15), which lost for a sixth straight game.
Also Sunday, Bnei Herzliya (9-16) secured another season in the top flight with an 85- 77 win at Maccabi Ashdod (10-16), officially relegating Ironi Ashkelon to the National League after 10 years in the BSL.
Herzliya’s seven straight defeats entering Sunday combined with Ashkelon’s (6-19) win over Ashdod last week complicated matters for the Sharon side. However, a 10-2 run to finish the encounter on Sunday snapped the losing streak and ensured Herzliya’s BSL status for another year.
Romel Beck led the winners with 26 points, while Diamon Simpson had 18 points for Ashdod.
On Monday, Netanya (14- 11) can secure a place in the top four and home-court advantage in the quarterfinal playoffs with a win against Hapoel Jerusalem (12-12).
Also Monday, Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (12-12) can book its place in the playoffs with a victory over Hapoel Holon (11-14).