Netanya finally falls, loses grip on first place

Mac TA moves atop standings after Eilat triumph; Hap Jerusalem at .500 with win in Holon.

MACCABI TEL AVIV’S Devin Smith 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
MACCABI TEL AVIV’S Devin Smith 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem recorded hard-fought BSL road victories on Sunday night, while Barak Netanya dropped to its first defeat of the season.
Maccabi showed no lasting effects from Thursday’s first Euroleague defeat of the season to Unicaja Malaga, dominating Hapoel Eilat in the fourth quarter on the way to a 79-68 victory.
Jerusalem beat Hapoel Holon 76-68, with Netanya falling to a 94-86 overtime loss at Maccabi Haifa.
On Monday, Hapoel Tel Aviv visits the winless Hapoel Gilboa/Galil, with the games between Ironi Ashkelon and Bnei Herzliya and Maccabi Rishon Lezion and Maccabi Ashdod being postponed to Wednesday due to the ongoing rocket fire from Gaza.
Maccabi and Eilat traded the lead time and again in the first half, but the yellow- and-blue ended the second quarter with a 17-2 run and seemed comfortable enough with a 44-35 gap at the break.
But the third period would belong to the southerners, with Eilat going on a 22-4 surge capped by an Ezequiel Skverer three-pointer (59-50).
Eilat lost its way after that, scoring just two points in the next nine minutes of the game, with Malcolm Thomas netting the last six points of the yellowand- blue’s 21-2 charge to open a 71-61 lead from which the hosts were never going to come back.
Lior Eliyahu led Maccabi with 18 points, six rebounds and six assists, with Ricky Hickman, Devin Smith and Thomas scoring 17, 16 and 15 points, respectively.
“The defeat to Malaga was really tough because we prepared really well for that game and we lost our focus due to everything that is going on,” said Maccabi coach David Blatt. “However, we showed our character tonight by bouncing back in a tough road game.”
Scotty Hopson had 22 points and six boards for Eilat, which fell to 4-2.
In Holon, Jerusalem had the edge (38- 35) at the break and pulled ahead in the second half for a confidence-boosting win.
Josh Duncan led five Jerusalem players in double-figures with 14 points, with Jerome Dyson scoring 22 points for Holon.
In Haifa, Netanya took an early double- digit lead (18-8), but had just a sixpoint cushion (39-33) at the half.
Haifa completed its comeback by the end of the third quarter (59-58), but it was fortunate not to lose the game at the buzzer, with both Ramel Bradley and Yehu Orland missing chances to win the encounter in the closing seconds.
The hosts made the most of their second chance, beginning overtime with a game-clinching 10-2 run.
Donta Smith had 26 points for Haifa, with Paul Stoll adding 17 points and seven assists and James Thomas contributing 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Bradley led six Netanya players in double figures with 19 points, while Deron Washington added 18 points and 11 boards.