Ness Ziona continues to impress, rolls over Mac Haifa

Newly-promoted Ironi Ness Ziona toppled yet another BSL powerhouse, ending reigning-champion Maccabi Haifa’s 5-game winning streak

IRONI NESS ZIONA’S Preston Knowles 370 (photo credit: BSL website)
IRONI NESS ZIONA’S Preston Knowles 370
(photo credit: BSL website)
Newly-promoted Ironi Ness Ziona toppled yet another BSL powerhouse on Sunday night, ending reigning-champion Maccabi Haifa’s five-game winning streak with an 80-69 victory.
After winning four consecutive contests, beating Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem on the trot, Ness Ziona was brought back down to earth with defeats to Hapoel Gilboa/Galil and Barak Netanya.
However, it bounced back and returned to its giant-killing ways at home on Sunday, outscoring Haifa 13-2 to end the game and improve to a 5-3 record, half a game behind the Greens (5-2).
Preston Knowles led Ness Ziona with 20 points, with Tyler Honeycutt adding 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Donta Smith had 16 points for Haifa, which will hope to rebound when it hosts MZT Skopje in Eurocup action on Wednesday.
Also Sunday, Netanya (4-3) claimed its third win in four games, beating Gilboa (3-5) 73-63 in Gan Ner.
Rashaun Freeman recorded a rare double-double of 19 points and 19 rebounds for Netanya, with Stu Douglass scoring 18 points for Gilboa.
On Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Hapoel Eilat at Nokia Arena, hoping to get back on track after a disastrous week.
The yellow-and-blue dropped to 4-3 in the BSL following last week’s 78-66 defeat at Hapoel Tel Aviv and saw its four-game Euroleague winning streak come to an end with its first home loss of the season on Thursday, falling 70-65 to Laboral Vitoria.
Incidentally, Eilat coach Oded Katash was the last Maccabi boss to lose three local games so early on in the season and he was fired after the third defeat, which came at the end of December 2007.
Also Monday, Raviv Limonad will look to continue his red-hot start to the season when Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Hapoel Jerusalem at Hadar Yosef Arena.
Limonad, who struggled at Jerusalem last season, currently leads the league with 19.0 points per game, scoring at least 16 points in all six of his side’s contests.
Jerusalem has won four of its past five BSL games and forward Lior Eliyahu is set to make his league debut for the team after playing eight minutes in the Eurocup defeat to Academic Sofia last week.
Elsewhere, Maccabi Ashdod visits Hapoel Holon, with Maccabi Rishon Lezion to welcome Bnei Herzliya on Tuesday.