Local Hoops: Haifa, Holon desperate for victory in Game 2 of quarterfinal series
Last week Haifa suffered its third defeat in three meetings against Bnei Hasharon this season.
By ALLON SINAI
After losing Game 1 of the best-of-five BSL quarterfinal playoffs at home last week, Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Holon know that anything but a victory on the road on Sunday night would all but end their hopes of reaching the season-ending Final Four.
Last week Haifa suffered its third defeat in three meetings against Bnei Hasharon this season, losing 69-66 in Romema even though the visitors shot a shocking 14 of 35 from the free throw line.
Maccabi got 36 points and 25 rebounds from the ever-reliable Doron Perkins and Davon Jefferson, but no other player reached double figures against Bnei Hasharon's excellent defense, which allowed the third-lowest number of points in the regular season.
Galil claimed a surprising 81-74 victory at Hapoel Holon last week, largely thanks to Gal Mekel's clutch scoring.
The young playmaker ended the game with 17 points and seven assists, ensuring Galil recorded it s fifth-straight victory after ending the regular season with four consecutive wins.
Holon, on the other hand, is struggling at the worst possible moment, and has now lost three straight games.
The reigning league champion and State Cup holder led with one quarter to play last week, but was outscored 14-2 to start the final period and failed to peg back Galil.
Also Sunday, Hapoel Jerusalem, which was the only team to claim a home victory in Game 1, travels up north to face Ironi Nahariya in what is surely a most-win game for the hosts.
On Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv will look to rebound from its stunning 96-95 overtime loss to Ironi Ashkelon at the Nokia Arena last week.
Ashkelon was a massive underdog to start the series, but its players will be brimming with confidence after winning in Tel Aviv thanks to Tre Kelley's buzzer-beating three-pointer.
Maccabi won by 24 points when it played in Ashkelon in the regular season, but its players have crumbled under the pressure time and again this season and can't afford to take anything for granted on Monday.
In the relegation playoffs, Maccabi Givat Shmuel, which just missed out on the quarterfinals, could find itself on the brink of relegation if it loses at Maccabi Rishon Lezion on Sunday.
Rishon won 72-62 at Givat Shmuel last week, handing the hosts their ninth straight loss.
Also Sunday, Ironi Kityat Ata will look to even-up its series against Ironi Ramat Gan when it hosts Game 2 in Nesher.
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