Yellow-and-blue way too much for Ashdod

Haifa dominates Ashkelon, jumps into 2nd place; Netanya edges Hap TA in wild affair.

MALCOLM THOMAS 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv improved to 9-1 in the BSL with a comfortable win over Maccabi Ashdod on Sunday night ahead of the start of the Euroleague Top 16, while Maccabi Haifa crushed Ironi Ashkelon to leapfrog Hapoel Eilat into second place.
A 15-0 second-quarter run opened a 20-point gap (48- 28) for Tel Aviv over Ashdod and the second half was pure garbage time, with the yellow- and-blue eventually winning 104-72 at Nokia Arena.
Devin Smith had 22 points for Maccabi, with Lior Eliyahu and David Logan adding 21 and 19 points, respectively.
Jamie Skeen scored 20 points for Ashdod, which fell to 2-8.
Haifa thrashed Ashkelon 111-94 at Romema and climbed to second position at the expense of Eilat after the southerners suffered a surprise 83-77 home loss at the hands of Bnei Herzliya.
Also Sunday, Barak Netanya beat Hapoel Tel Aviv 68-61 on the road in a game which spiraled out of control in the fourth quarter.
The encounter in Rishon Lezion had to be stopped for several minutes after Hapoel fans went wild following some questionable calls by the referees, but Netanya weathered the storm to return to winning ways after losing four consecutive games.
Marco Killingsworth and Yehu Orland had 19 points each for Netanya, with Matan Naor scoring 14 for Hapoel.
“This is a sad day for Israeli basketball,” said Hapoel coach Erez Edelstein. “The refs need to use more common sense.”
Maccabi Tel Aviv visits Montepaschi Siena in its Top 16 opener on Thursday just one month after it lost in Italy in the regular season.
Maccabi will have a new player in the Top 16 after signing promising Croatian center Darko Planinic on Sunday.
The 22-year-old, who measures at 2.12-meters, joins from Bosnian team Siroki for an estimated sum of 300,000 euros.
Giorgi Shermadini, who averaged less than 10 minutes per game in the Euroleague, will leave to make room for Planinic.
“Darko will give us a physical presence in the paint,” said Maccabi coach David Blatt. “He runs really well for a player his size and I believe that he could be one of Maccabi’s big men of the future.”
In Haifa, the hosts opened the night with a 9-0 run and never looked back, scoring 35 points in the first quarter.
Pat Calathes led six Haifa players in double-figures with 27 points and 12 boards, while James Thomas added 21 points.
Julien Mills scored 25 points for Ashleon, which lost after four straight wins.
Eilat entered Sunday’s game against Herzliya with six wins from its previous seven games, but the visitors took control with a 12-2 run in the fourth frame and held on for the victory.
Derrick Caracter led Herzliya with 26 points and 17 rebounds, with Scotty Hopson scoring 23 for Eilat.
On Monday, Hapoel Jerusalem is at Hapoel Gilboa/Galil and Hapoel Holon hosts Maccabi Rishon Lezion.