Eilat takes control of destiny at Malha

Katash’s men claim 78-71 victory in J’lem to reamin in 2nd; Holon stay in playoff hunt.

Oded Katash (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Oded Katash
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Eilat edged closer to clinching the No. 2 seed in the BSL playoffs with a 78-71 victory over Hapoel Jerusalem at Malha Arena on Wednesday night.
Eilat bounced back from Monday’s disappointing loss to Barak Netanya to improve to 16-9 with its fourth win in five games.
The visitors led by as many as 15 points (28-13) in the second quarter, but Jerusalem never gave up the chase and was ahead by four points (63-59) early in the fourth frame.
However, a 9-0 run late in the final quarter, capped by an Afik Nissim three-pointer with 1:33 to play, opened a seven-point margin (76-69) from which Jerusalem couldn’t return.
Scotty Hopson ended the game with 26 points for Eilat, with Nissim scoring 20 points.
Jerusalem’s new signing Samardo Samuels, who joined the team after three seasons with the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, led the hosts with 16 points.
Also Wednesday, Hapoel Holon (11-14) kept its playoff hopes alive with its fourth win in five games, beating Bnei Herzliya 92-83.
Holon opened a double-digit margin in the first period (33- 23), but Herzliya trailed by just two points (49-47) at the break.
Holon reestablished a 10- point gap (73-63) by the end of the third quarter, but the hosts were down by just a single point (84-83) with two minutes remaining, only for the visitors to end the game with an 8-0 run to build on their recent momentum.
Jerome Dyson had 33 points for Holon, with the league’s leading rebounder, Frank Hassell, dominant under the baskets once more, ending the night with 24 points and 21 rebounds.
Lawrence Hill added 21 points and 11 boards, while Romel Beck had 27 points for Herzliya (8-16), which has lost seven straight games.
On Thursday, Maccabi Haifa (15-9) will look to keep pace with Eilat when it visits Maccabi Tel Aviv at Nokia Arena.
After winning six straight games, Haifa has dropped its past two, including a humbling 20-point home defeat (78-58) to Jerusalem on Sunday.
Maccabi Tel Aviv, which secured the No. 1 seed in the playoffs long ago, improved to 20-3 on Sunday with a 77-71 victory over Maccabi Rishon Lezion.
Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (11-12) hosts Hapoel Tel Aviv (12-12) in Gan Ner on Thursday in a direct showdown for the No.7 seed in the post-season.
Both teams will be entering the encounter brimming with confidence, with Gilboa winning the Balkan League championship for a second straight season with a victory over Levski Sofia in Bulgaria on Sunday, while Tel Aviv fought back to claim a dramatic 77-75 win at Maccabi Ashdod, its third straight triumph and fifth over the past six games.
Also Thursday, rock-bottom Ironi Ashkelon (5-19), which has lost 13 consecutive games and is set to be relegated to the National League, hosts Maccabi Ashdod (10-14), while Barak Netanya (13-11) looks to close in on clinching fourth place and home-court advantage in the playoffs with a win at Maccabi Rishon Lezion (11-13).