Playoff battle heats up in BSL

The battle for fourth place and a playoff spot in the season-ending final four heated up on Sunday.

The battle for fourth place in the BSL and a playoff spot in the season-ending final four heated up on Sunday night after fourth-place Ironi Nahariya lost while fifth-placed Hapoel Tel Aviv and No. 6 Bnei Hasharon won. The three teams are tied on points, with a slight advantage to Nahariya because it has played fewer games. Third-placed Maccabi Rishon Lezion will also be looking over its shoulder after its surprise loss to Elitzur Ashkelon. Galil-Golan 82,Ironi Nahariya 72 Nahariya fell at home to a rejuvenated Hapoel Galil Elyon-Golan and lost the small cushion it had over teams below it. Nahariya led at the start of the game but a second-quarter, 10-1 run by Galil gave Oded Katash's team a lead that it wouldn't give up. The win was the second straight for Katash since returning to coach Galil, and the team's relegation worries of a couple of weeks ago now seem far away. "I knew and believed that we could do it," said Katash about winning two in a row. Bnei Hasharon 95, Ironi Ramat Gan 90 (OT) Bnei Hasharon took an early lead and, despite Ramat Gan tying the game and forcing overtime, Bnei Hasharon eventually prevailed for an important win. Ramat Gan closed the gap at the start of the second period and the game remained tight until the end. Bnei Hasharon had the chance to win the game in regulation when Yariv Rokni missed two free throws with only seconds remaining. Rokni redeemed himself in overtime when his defensive play allowed the visitors to pull away and secure the victory. Hapoel Tel Aviv 93, Maccabi Givat Shmuel 69 Hapoel Tel Aviv blew away Maccabi Givat Shmuel at Nokia Arena after taking a double-digit lead in the early stages of the game. Last-place Givat Shmuel never came close to closing the gap and the team's relegation is starting to look like a done deal. Elitzur Ashkelon 87, Maccabi Rishon Lezion 78 The surprise of Matchday 18 came in Rishon Lezion, where the third-place hosts lost to Elitzur Ashkelon. The visitors went ahead in the first quarter with Rishon Lezion chasing them throughout the game. At the start of the fourth quarter, Ashkelon took a 71-64 lead and the hosts were unable to come back. Matchday 18 will be completed on Monday when Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Ramat Hasharon.