Yellow-and-blue back to BSL winning ways

Maccabi Tel Aviv returned to winning ways in the BSL, snapping a twogame skid with a comfortable 90-71 victory.

Maccabi Tel Aviv's Lior Eliyahu 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv's Lior Eliyahu 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv returned to winning ways in the BSL on Sunday night, snapping a twogame skid with a comfortable 90-71 victory at Maccabi Ashdod.
Despite falling at the hands of Hapoel Tel Aviv and Barak Netanya in local league action in the past couple of weeks, Maccabi continued its sensational run in the Euroleague, remaining in the hunt for a place in the quarterfinal playoffs.
However, it still wanted to make sure it entered this Friday’s crucial continental contest at Olympiacos on the back of a BSL win and it easily outplayed Ashdod, effectively clinching the victory by taking a 44-24 gap into the break.
Shawn James had 19 points and seven rebounds for Maccabi, with Lior Eliyahu contributing 12 points and 10 boards.
“We lost two Israeli games and we wanted to make this a statement game,” said James.
“I’m not tired at all and I feel great. The game against Olympiacos is going to be the game of the year for us. We are just going to go out and leave it all on the floor.”
Diamon Simpson had 16 points for Ashdod (9-12), which is still battling for a place in the playoffs.
All 12 BSL teams were in action on Sunday ahead of Monday’s All-Star game at Haifa’s Romema Arena.
Barak Netanya clinched a place in the top-six on Sunday, beating Hapoel Tel Aviv 70-62 at home.
The league will be split into two sections after every team completes two rounds of action next week.
The top six sides will play each other once more for playoff seeding, while the bottom six will fight for the two final playoff berths, with the team to end the season in last place to be relegated.
Netanya built on last week’s win over Maccabi Tel Aviv by holding Hapoel to 38.6 percent from the field (17-of-44), winning its second straight game to improve to 11-10.
Raymar Morgan had 20 points and nine rebounds for Netanya, with Marco Killingsworth adding 18 points and nine boards.
Matan Naor scored 16 points for Hapoel, which fell to 9-12.
Maccabi Haifa (14-7) and Hapoel Eilat (13-8) remained neck-and-neck in the battle for the runner-up position with wins on Sunday.
Haifa beat Ironi Ashkelon 83-69 on the road for its fifth straight victory despite trailing by as many as 19 points (35- 16) in the first half.
Haifa still trailed by 12 points (43-31) at the break, but outscored the hosts 25-14 in the third quarter to close within a single point (57-56) and clinched the win with a 24-4 run to start the fourth frame.
Pat Calathes, Paul Stoll and Ido Kozikaro scored 17 points each for Haifa, with Marque Perry netting 19 points for Ashkelon, which lost its 10th consecutive game.
Eilat crushed Bnei Herzliya 92-57 for its third win in four games, securing the victory with a stunning 32-2 surge in the first half (43-15).
Larry O’Bannon had 17 points for Eilat, with Isaac Rosefelt finishing with 13 points for Herzliya, which lost its fourth consecutive game to drop to 8-13.
Hapoel Jerusalem (11-10) missed a chance to move back into the top-four on Sunday, losing 92-77 to Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (9-12) at Malha Arena.
After a tight first half ended in a 45-45 deadlock, Gilboa seized control with an 11-0 run (68-56) and never looked back.
Jamar Smith had 21 points for Gilboa, with Rakim Sanders adding 20 points for Lior Lubin’s men, who are red-hot, having won four of five contests.
Dan Grunfeld’s 26 points couldn’t help the disjointed Jerusalem avoid its third straight loss.
Also Sunday, Hapoel Holon (8-13) eased its relegation worries with an 82-76 triumph at Maccabi Rishon Lezion (11-10).
Frank Hassell had 20 points and 18 rebounds for Holon, with Willie Warren netting 28 points for Rishon.