Netanya’s furious rally falls short on a T

Habika’a escapes with one-point victory, final playoff berth; Ashdod women go up on Ramle.

Hendrix 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Hendrix 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
BC Habika’a will have the dubious honor of facing Maccabi Tel Aviv in the BSL quarterfinal playoffs after claiming a controversial 79-78 victory at Barak Netanya on Thursday night to clinch the eighth and final playoff berth.
Habika’a and Netanya entered their final regular season game tied on a 9-14 record and the visitors looked to be in complete control after outscoring the hosts 29-14 in the first period and maintaining a 17- point gap (55-38) until midway through the third quarter.
However, Netanya came back to tie the score at 78-78 with 0.8 seconds to play after Yehu Orland scored a desperation three-pointer, only for the hosts to be called for a technical foul after fans burst onto the floor in celebration.
Dion Dowell missed his first free throw but scored his second and Habika’a secured a post-season berth with its third straight win.
Frank Robinson had 20 points and nine rebounds for Habika’a, while Adrian Banks scored 33 for Netanya, which lost for the third time in four games and will now wrap up its season with two meaningless encounters against its partners to the doldrums of the standings, Bnei Hasharon and Maccabi Haifa.
Two of the four playoff series’ are now set, with Hapoel Gilboa/Galil to also play Maccabi Ashdod.
The two remaining matchups will be determined on Sunday, with Hapoel Jerusalem needing to defeat Maccabi Tel Aviv in its final regular season game and for Maccabi Rishon Lezion to lose at home to Ashkelon to climb to third place and face Ashkelon in the quarters.
Any other combination of results will see Jerusalem play Hapoel Holon in the playoffs, while Rishon will come up against Ashkelon.
Maccabi Tel Aviv improved to 22-2 on Thursday with a comfortable 88-69 win over Ashkelon at Nokia Arena.
Lior Eliyahu had 20 points for Maccabi, while Marco Killingsworth netted 22 for Ashkelon.
Also Thursday, Holon climbed to third, but only until Sunday after beating Gilboa 76-74.
Bryant Dunston and Tasmin Mitchell had 15 points each for Holon, which will drop to fifth regardless of Sunday’s results, with Romeo Travis scoring 20 for Gilboa.
Gilboa will be in action once more on Saturday night when it faces Hapoel Tel Aviv of the National League in the semifinals of the Balkan League Final Four in Gan Ner.
Gilboa and Hapoel entered the 12-team league, which consists of clubs from Bosnia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania and Montenegro, hoping to generate extra income by playing twice a week regularly.
Gilboa advanced to the Final Four at its home arena by winning regular season Group A with a 9-1 record.
Tel Aviv, which is fighting for promotion to the BSL in the second division playoffs, beat Bulgaria’s BC Rilski Sportist 2-1 in its bestof- three quarterfinal playoff series after finishing regular season Group B in second place with an 8-2 record.
In the second semi on Saturday, BC Levski of Bulgaria faces defending champion KK Feni Industries of Macedonia.
The final will be played on Monday.
Also Thursday, Maccabi Ashdod took a 1-0 lead over Elitzur Ramle in the women’s playoff finals, recording a nervy 58-56 home win.
Tamera Young had 18 points and seven rebounds for Ashdod, which is looking to avenge last season’s 3-0 defeat to Ramle in the finals and complete a league and State Cup double.
Tanisha Wright scored 13 points for the defending champion.