It seemed as if it would only be a matter of time until the team would be relegated to the National League.
By ALLON SINAI
Midway through the BSL season it seemed as if it would only be a matter of time until Ironi Ramat Gan would be relegated to the National League.Ramat Gan lost 11 of its first 12 regular season games and was stranded at the bottom of the standings. Coach Daniel Gutt was sacked on February 1, a day after Ramat Gan suffered a 41-point thrashing at the hands of Bnei Hasharon.The future seemed very bleak for one of Israel’s oldest clubs.Assistant coach Yaniv Burger was put in charge of team affairs as an interim replacement, but what followed surprised everyone.Ramat Gan won its first two games under the inexperienced Burger and split its final 10 encounters of the regular season, crushing Hapoel Holon 90-66 in the final weekend of the campaign to climb off the bottom of the standings.Ramat Gan avoided a relegation playoff series against a tricky Ironi Nahariya side, coming up instead against the free-falling Hapoel Afula.Afula won just three of its final 15 regular season games and Ramat Gan can complete a 3-0 series sweep over the Northerners with a road victory on Sunday night.AdvertisementRamat Gan beat Afula 75-71 away from home in Game 1 and took a significant step towards maintaining its BSL status last Wednesday by winning 91-84 in Game 2 at home.“We entered the playoff in good shape and I really believed in my players,” Burger said.“However, the series isn’t over yet. I told the players that this isn’t the time to celebrate and that we can’t afford to take our foot off the gas.”Also Sunday, Maccabi Haifa hosts Barak Netanya in the quarterfinalplayoffs, looking to become the first team to claim a home victory inthe series.Haifa beat Netanya 75-73 on the road in Game 2 to tie the series at 1-1 after losing Game 1 at home.On Monday, Hapoel Jerusalem and Hapoel Gilboa/Galil will be favored tocomplete a 3-0 sweep and book their places in the Final Four.Jerusalem hosts Maccabi Rishon Lezion, while Gilboa welcomes Ironi Ashkelon.Maccabi Tel Aviv will be looking to take a 2-1 lead when it hosts BneiHasharon on Monday, with Hapoel Holon visiting Ironi Nahariya in therelegation playoffs with the series also tied at 1-1.
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