Hap J’lem mauls Habika’a to clinch top-six seeding

The league will be split into two sections after Maccabi Tel Aviv faces Habika’a in a postponed game on Saturday night.

DJ Strawberry (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
DJ Strawberry
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Hapoel Jerusalem kept alive its hopes of securing home-court advantage in the BSL quarterfinals after thrashing BC Habika’a 87-61 on Sunday night to book its place in the top-six playoffs.
The league will be split into two sections after Maccabi Tel Aviv faces Habika’a in a postponed game on Saturday night, with each team to play once more against the other sides in its section.
The top six will play for seeding in the quarterfinal playoffs, while the bottom five will fight for the two remaining berths in the best-of-five series’ from which the winners will advance to the Final Four to be played at Nokia Arena over May 22-24.
Jerusalem’s bitterly poor season so far meant that it was in danger of missing out on a top-six finish entering Sunday’s games, but it never gave Habika’a a chance, outscoring the visitors 27-13 in the first period at Malha Arena and remaining in complete control until the final buzzer.
Brian Randle had 17 points for Jerusalem, with Dan Grunfeld adding 15.
Dion Dowell scored 17 for Habika’a, which has lost seven of its past eight games.
Ironi Ashkelon edged Maccabi Ashdod for sixth place in the standings, but only thanks to Hapoel Gilboa/Galil.
Ashkelon was thrashed 92- 73 at Barak Netanya, suffering its fourth defeat in the last five games.
Netanya led throughout the first half, but Ashkelon closed to within two points (49-47) midway through the third quarter.
However, the hosts pulled ahead once more with an 18-4 run and clinched a win that takes them to eighth place and puts them in pole position to claim the final playoff berth.
Brian Asbury had 25 points and seven rebounds for Netanya, with Adrian Banks adding 22.
Marco Killingsworth scored 17 for Ashkelon, which remained in the top six courtesy of Gilboa/Galil’s 76-74 win at Ashdod.
Ashdod entered the game on the back of seven wins in its past eight encounters and led for most of Sunday’s showdown.
However, Gilboa fought back in the final 10 minutes and Romeo Travis’s jumper with 6.2 seconds to play clinched the win for the northerners, who improved to 14-6 to take a stranglehold on second place.
Travis ended the game with 19 points, while Dagan Yavzuri contributed 18.
Josh Carter scored 20 points for Ashdod, which fell to a 10-10 record and finished below its coastal opponent on a tiebreaker after losing twice to Ashkelon this season.
Also Sunday, Maccabi Haifa dropped to its 14th straight BSL defeat, yet again squandering a late lead and falling dramtically 105-102 in double overtime to Maccabi Rishon Lezion.
Haifa, which hasn’t won a league game since November, was ahead by 12 points (76-64) with five minutes to play, but Derwin Kitchen’s basket tied the score at 85- 85 and sent the encounter into overtime.
There was still nothing to separate the teams after five extra minutes (94-94), but a three-point play by Joe Crawford would give Rishon a 103-102 advantage and he would clinch the win from the free throw line after Haifa missed at the other end.
Crawford ended the game with 35 points, six rebounds and five assists, with Tyler Wilkerson scoring 30 for the sorry Haifa.