Mac TA, Gilboa set at 1-2 as playoff picture shapes up

Maccabi outscores Holon 27-7 in the first quarter; Gilboa clinches the win against Rishon courtesy of a late run.

MACCABI TEL AVIV’S Yogev Ohayon 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
MACCABI TEL AVIV’S Yogev Ohayon 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Hapoel Gilboa/Galil booked the No. 2 seed in the BSL playoffs on Sunday night thanks to a 74-67 victory over Maccabi Rishon Lezion in Gan Ner.
With Maccabi Ashdod already guaranteed to finish in seventh place, the first of the four best-of-five playoff series is set after Gilboa clinched the win against Rishon courtesy of a late run.
A tight first half ended in a 34-34 stalemate, and although the visitors led for most of the third quarter, it was Gilboa which had the edge (49-47) with 10 minutes to play after Courtney Fells capped an 8-0 run to end the period with a three-pointer.
There was still nothing to separate the teams (57-57) midway through the final frame, but a Dagan Yavzuri triple completed a 10-1 Gilboa surge from which Rishon could not come back.
“This was a really tough game,” said Gilboa coach Lior Lubin, who is hoping to guide his team to the Final Four for a second straight season. “We slightly loosened up in the closing stages and began to make the correct decisions.”
Romeo Travis led Gilboa with 18 points, while Fells, Joseph Jones and new signing William Hatcher scored 14 points each.
Brandon Bowman and Joe Crawford had 20 points each for Rishon, which has yet to secure the No. 3 seed.
A Hapoel Jerusalem victory over Ironi Ashkelon on Monday as well as another against Maccabi Tel Aviv next Sunday combined with a Rishon loss to Ashkelon next week will see Effi Birenboim’s men drop to fourth.
Jerusalem can already clinch at least fourth place at the end of the regular season and home-court advantage in the playoffs with a win on Monday after Maccabi Tel Aviv improved to 21-2 with an 80- 70 victory over Hapoel Holon at Nokia Arena on Sunday.
Maccabi outscored Holon 27-7 in the first quarter, rendering the final three periods meaningless.
Lior Eliyahu had 19 points for Maccabi, with Keith Langford adding 18 for the yellowand- blue, which began the game with a 15-0 run.
Bryant Dunston scored 15 for Holon, which looks set to end the season in fifth and face Jerusalem in the playoffs without home-court advantage.
The fight for the eighth and final playoff berth turned into a two-horse race on Sunday after BC Habika’a thrashed Ashdod 87-70.
Bnei Hasharon needed an Ashdod win to stay alive in the battle for the questionable honor of facing Maccabi in the playoffs, but a 14-2 fourth-quarter run by Habika’a gave it the precious win on Sunday.
Troy Gillenwater led five Habika’a players in double-figures with 18 points, while Josh Duncan had 20 points and 15 rebounds for Ashdod, which is already preparing for its matchup against Gilboa in the playoffs.
Sunday’s win means that the identity of the eighth seed will be decided on Thursday, with the winner of the showdown between Habika’a and Barak Netanya to come up against Maccabi in the playoffs.
Also Monday, Bnei Hasharon hosts Maccabi Haifa in a game between two teams playing only for pride.