Local Hoops: It's up for grabs on Super Tuesday

Ironi Nahariya, Hapoel Jerusalem, Ironi Ashkelon all fighting for last Final Four spot.

guy pnini 298.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
guy pnini 298.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
It's tight at the top, but Ironi Nahariya will be the favorite to take the last Final Four spot on Tuesday night when it faces Ironi Ramat Gan in the final round of regular season BSL games. Nahariya can book a meeting with top of the table Hapoel Holon in the Final Four with a home victory over Ramat Gan. A loss for Nahariya, however, will open the door for Hapoel Jerusalem and Ironi Ashkelon, which need to win and for other results to go their way to sneak into the top four and set-up a semifinal meeting with the league leader next week. There's only one scenario in which either Jerusalem or Ashkelon can leapfrog Nahariya. In Hapoel's case, the State Cup holder needs to first defeat Hapoel Galil Elyon at Kfar Blum and then for Nahariya and Ashkelon to lose at home to Ramat Gan and Holon respectively. The only way Ashkelon can extend its season is if both it and Jerusalem win on Tuesday, while Nahariya suffers a defeat. Even though its five-game winning streak was ended by Jerusalem at Malha Arena last week, Nahariya is still expected to advance. Roni Bosani's team has shown a dramatic improvement since the coach took charge last month and only failed to claim its sixth straight win because of one minute of poor judgment at the closing stages against Hapoel. "This isn't a nice scenario to be in, but we got ourselves into this hole and we can't blame anyone but ourselves," Jerusalem forward Noel Felix told the BSL Web site. "We will try to at least do our part to advance. We have one more game left and we must win it." Despite the fact that Nahariya's and Ashkelon's opponents both have nothing to play for, Felix is certain that Ramat Gan and Holon will give their best to win on Tuesday night. "They may not have a goal to play for, but they will look to win," Felix said. "Some people play basketball out of love and some play for money, but everyone plays to win." Since Ziv Erez replaced Dan Shamir as coach at Jerusalem, Hapoel has won three of four league games, and will be confident against a Galil side, which has lost four of its last five encounters. The team with perhaps the toughest task on Tuesday is Ashkelon. Adi Azulai's team, which has won seven of its last nine games, faces a Holon side which can't stop winning. Miki Dorsman's team has lost only once in its last 10 league games and just twice in 18 games. "Our chances aren't good, but we will do our part," Ashkelon forward Moshon Yakusi said. "We will be much hungrier than the Holon players. They have already guaranteed first position and have nothing to play for. "We, however, are fighting for something and I believe we will get our win." Also Tuesday, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Bnei Hasharon, which will face off in the other Final Four semifinal, continue their preparations for next week. Tel Aviv visits Maccabi Rishon Lezion, while the relegated Hapoel Afula/Gilboa hosts Bnei Hasharon.