Yellow-and-blue rallies to overcome Ashdod

Bnei Hasharon climbs into second with defeat of Gilboa/Gail; Netanya claws back on the road.

Chuck Eidson 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Chuck Eidson 311
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv survived a first-half scare to beat Maccabi Ashdod 99-82 for its 10th straight BSL triumph on Sunday night, while Bnei Hasharon claimed an important victory over Hapoel Gilboa/Galil in the battle for second position and Barak Netanya topped Ironi Ashkelon in the fight against relegation.
Tel Aviv seemed to be cruising at Nokia Arena after opening a 14-point margin in the first period (25-11), but Ashdod outscored the hosts 27-12 in the second quarter and led at the half.
However, the yellow-and-blue broke Ashdod’s resistance in the second half on the way to another double-digit win ahead of Thursday’s crucial Euroleague showdown at Olimpija Ljubljana.
“We began the game superbly, but Ashdod played very well in the second period and they deserve all the credit for that,” Maccabi coach David Blatt said.
“I’m quite happy this happened because we haven’t had a close encounter in a while and we needed one.
“It took us time to get back to our regular game in the second half, but we eventually found our rhythm and finished the game well.”
Sofoklis Schortsanitis led seven Tel Aviv players in double-figures with 18 points and seven rebounds. Lior Eliyahu added 17 points, with Chuck Eidson and David Blu scoring 14 points each.
Josh Duncan led Ashdod with 19 points, with Meir Tapiro contributing 16 points and 10 assists for the team, which has now lost four straight games.
Bnei Hasharon climbed to second place in the standings on Sunday, beating Gilboa 69-48 in Gan Ner.
The visitors opened a slender 23-18 lead after 10 minutes, but extended it to double-figures with an 8-0 run to start the second period and held a comfortable gap until the end of the game.
Ben Rice had 13 points for the winners, who shot just 42 percent from the field.
Tyler Wilkerson had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Gilboa, which hit an abysmal 30 percent of its shots.
Also Sunday, Barak Netanya trailed Ashkelon by double-figures in the third quarter, but fought back in the final frame to edge the hosts 76-74.
Romeo Travis had 24 points and nine rebounds for Netanya, with Adrian Banks adding 19 points.
Rashon Turner contributed 19 points and 12 rebounds for Ashkelon, which was guided by new coach Eli Rabi for the first time, but still dropped to its seventh defeat in its past eight games.
Hapoel Jerusalem hosts Hapoel Holon on Monday night.
After being blown out 27-3 by Tel Aviv in the first period of the cup semifinals last Monday, Ashdod got off to a slightly better start on Sunday, but still seemed to be out of the game after 10 minutes, trailing 25-11 following Eliyahu’s three-point play.
However, to the astonishment of the brave fans who came to Nokia, the visitors didn’t collapse in the second quarter and mounted an impressive comeback.
Ashdod slowly ate away at the gap and would stunningly complete its rally by the break, scoring eight of the final 10 points of the first half to take a 38-37 lead into the interval.
The visitors remained within one possession for much of the third frame and despite a late Tel Aviv run, were still in contention with 10 minutes to play, trailing 69-61.
But the contest would be over after three fourth-period minutes.
The hosts began the final frame with a 13-1 run, with Doron Perkins’ threepointer opening a 20-point margin (82- 62) from which there was no return.