Haifa may not play the prettiest style of basketball, but AviAshkenazi’s team keeps pulling out the victories and has now won nineof its last 11 league games.
Gilboa thrashed Haifa by 35 points at the start of the season, butafter beginning the campaign with impressive basketball and a 9-2record, it has now lost three consecutive games and coach Oded Katashhas plenty to mull over ahead of the stretch-run to the postseason.
Also Sunday, Maccabi Tel Aviv crushed Maccabi Rishon Lezion 105-74,Barak Netanya won 90-77 at Hapoel Afula and Ironi Ramat Gan claimed itssecond straight victory under new coach Yaniv Burger, beating IroniNahariya 86-80.
Ironi Ashkelon welcomes Bnei Hasharon on Monday in a repeat of last week’s cup semifinal won by Bnei Hasharon.
At Romema, the visitors pulled in front early, but Haifa scored nine ofthe last 10 points of the first period and the score was tied at 19-19.An extremely tight second quarter ended in a slender Haifa lead (48-45)and the hosts took a two-point margin (62-60) into the final 10minutes.
The game seemed destined to end in nail-biting fashion, but poordecision making combined with some good defensive work by Haifacompletely derailed Gilboa’s offense and the hosts opened a 75-65 gapwith four minutes to play after Richard Roby’s basket. Gilboa MACCABIHAIFA big man Ido Kozikaro (center) battles with Hapoel Gilboa/Galil’sElishay Kadir (left) and Isaiah Swann during last night’s BSL clash atRomema, won by the Greens 80-78. could not come back from that andHaifa claimed yet another hard fought victory.
Jason Rich scored 18 points for Haifa, which also got 17 points eachfrom Amit Ben-David and Roby, with Ido Kozikaro contributing 14 points.
Brian Randle had 18 points for Gilboa, which needs to return to winningways quickly if it is to clinch home-court advantage in the playoffs.
In Tel Aviv, the hosts only led 25-21 after 10 minutes, but opened adouble-digit in the second period, leading 47-36 at the break afterAndrew Wisniewski’s basket.
The lead would mushroom in the second half and Tel Aviv cruised to itseighth victory by 20 points or more in the BSL this season.
Raviv Limonad led five Tel Aviv players in double-figures with 20points, with Chuck Eidson adding 18 and Stephane Lasme scoring 14.
Larry O’Bannon scored 21 points for Rishon, which has lost three straight games.
“This game has given us nothing ahead of Wednesday’s Euroleagueencounter at Efes Pilsen,” said Tel Aviv coach Pini Gershon.
In Afula, Netanya went on a run at the end of the first quarter and led 29-21 after 10 minutes.
Danilo Pinnock scored the first points of the second period to give thevisitors a double-digit margin, but Afula came roaring back and JustinDentmon’s threepointer midway through the quarter tied the score at35-35.
The score was still tied at the break (4141)and with 10 minutes to play Netanya was ahead 64-62. However, thevisitors dominated the fourth quarter and surged in front to whateventually proved to be a comfortable victory.
Pinnock had 21 points for Netanya, with MarcoKillingsworth adding 17 points and nine rebounds and Shmulik Brennercontributing 15 points and five assists.
Nitzan Hanochi led five Afula players indouble-digits with 17 points, but that didn’t help the team fromfalling to its sixth defeat in seven games.In Ramat Gan, the visitors opened an earlydouble-figure lead, but were only ahead by four points at the end ofthe first quarter (27-23). Ramat Gan ended the first half with a 16-3run to lead 4941 at the interval and led by as many as 19 points in thethird quarter (69-50).
Nahariya ate away at the margin in the fourthperiod, but despite closing to within four points with one minuteremaining could not complete a comeback and dropped to a ninth defeatin 10 games.