Local Hoops: Mac TA falls out of first with tough loss

Bnei Hasharon leapfrogged the team into first position in the BSL with a 79-78 victory.

Bnei Hasharon 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Bnei Hasharon 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Bnei Hasharon leapfrogged Maccabi Tel Aviv into first position in the BSL on Sunday night with a 79-78 victory at the Nokia Arena, its third win of the season over the perennial champion. Just last month Bnei Hasharon ended Maccabi's 55 game home league win streak and on Sunday Effi Birenboim's men showed once again that they are true challengers for this year's championship title. After trailing early on to Bnei Hasharon, Maccabi took the lead at the start of the second period and was ahead until the final seconds of the encounter. Clutch scoring by Rod Grizzard, however, turned the game on its head and a rare Derrick Sharp free throw miss with two seconds to play gave the visitors their sixth straight league win. Tel Aviv will have to put Sunday's loss behind it very quickly as it hosts the decisive Game 3 of the Euroleague quarterfinal playoff against Barcelona this Thursday. "We got off to a bad start, but we managed to get back into the game and took the lead," Maccabi coach Tzvika Sherf said. "We must put this game behind us as quickly as possible and turn our full focus to Thursday's important encou- nter against Barcelona." Ndudi Ebi led Bnei Hasharon with 23 points and 15 rebounds, with Jason Williams adding 20 points and five rebounds. Grizzard and Meir Tapiro added 11 and 10 points respectively. Omri Casspi scored 21 points for Maccabi, with Yotam Halperin adding 19 points. There was also some good news for Maccabi on Sunday after the Tel Aviv District Attorney's Office announced that Will Bynum will not face charges for allegedly running over a man three months ago. Bynum was initially held under arrest for two days after allegedly running over Ben Natan, 22, on January 5 after a brawl had erupted outside the 'G Spot' club in southern Tel Aviv. Also Sunday, Hapoel Holon won for an 11th time in 13 games, defeating Maccabi Rishon Lezion 107-90. Oded Katash's Hapoel Galil Elyon beat Ironi Ramat Gan 99-86 for its second straight win and Ironi Ashkelon defeated Ironi Nahariya 100-87. On Monday, Hapoel Jerusalem visits Hapoel Afula/Gilboa. Maccabi led 35-32 at the half and a good start to the second half put it comfortably ahead. An athletic dunk by Terence Morris followed by two more easy Casspi points increased the lead to 50-38 and the visitors looked beaten. Birenboim's resilient team was, however, up for the task, and ate away at the margin as the third period progressed, cutting the deficit to three with Grizzard's buzzer beating three from beyond mid-court. Bnei Hasharon continued its surge at the start of the fourth period and Williams tied the score at 63-63 with a basket from beyond the arc a minute into the final quarter. A foolish turnover by Bynum in Maccabi's second-last possession and two Grizzard free throws opened a three point gap (76-73), but Grizzard fouled Sharp while he was shooting a three with two seconds to play and gave the hosts a chance to send the game into overtime. The Maccabi captain, the team's best free throw shooter, hit his first two shots from the line, but missed his final attempt and Bnei Hasharon held on for a famous victory.