Mac Haifa stays red-hot with sixth straight victory

Mac Haifa stays red-hot

rubble in Qusair 150 (photo credit: REUTERS)
rubble in Qusair 150
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Maccabi Haifa strengthened its position in the BSL's top four on Saturday, thrashing Hapoel Afula 81-57 for its sixth straight league victory. For the fifth time in the last six games, Haifa's defense held its opponent to 70 points or less, with Maccabi's rivals scoring an average of 67.2 points in the team's current winning streak. Afula held a slender lead over Haifa in the early stages of Saturday's encounter and was ahead 26-25 five minutes into the second period. However, Haifa held the hosts to just 31 points in the remainder of the game and eventually sailed to the easiest of victories. "Apart from the first period, we were really focused and played excellent defense," Haifa coach Avi Ashkenazi said. Davon Jefferson was once more the star of the show for Haifa, scoring 21 points and taking 10 rebounds. Dror Hagag added 10 points for the Greens, with Justin Dentmon scoring 22 points for Afula. On Sunday, Maccabi Tel Aviv will try to forget about its Euroleague struggles when it visits Bnei Hasharon in Herzliya. Maccabi lost its second straight continental game on Thursday, falling 77-72 to CSKA Moscow, but is 8-0 in the BSL, winning its games by an average 19.9 points. Bnei Hasharon is also in desperate need of a confidence boosting win after suffering a disappointing defeat to the previously winless Hapoel Holon last week. Hapoel Jerusalem enters Sunday's league game on the back of a European defeat as well following its 86-69 loss at KK Zadar. Jerusalem, which has won three straight BSL games, visits Ironi Ashkelon, which has lost its last two encounters. Also Sunday, Ironi Nahariya hosts Hapoel Gilboa/Galil and Maccabi Rishon Lezion visits Ironi Ramat Gan. Barak Netanya welcomes Holon on Monday. In Afula, the hosts led for most of the first period, but Jesse Pellot-Rosa's three-pointer made sure the score was tied at 19-19 after 10 minutes. The game remained tight for the first five minutes of the second period, with the hosts still leading 26-25 with five minutes remaining in the first half. However, Haifa would take complete control of the encounter in the subsequent minutes, opening a 41-28 lead at the break with a 16-2 run to end the half. The visitors continued to dominate in the second half, leading 49-30 three minutes into the third period after a Jefferson basket. Afula pretty much gave up at this stage and Haifa took an unassailable 64-37 margin into the fourth quarter and cruised to another convincing win.