Two wins and two losses at the top of the Israel Winner League through Round 33 meant there was jostling for position in the standings. Wednesday was also a significant round as it close the Winner League Regular Season and we can now look ahead to the Quarter-Finals.
The eight teams playing in the next round are Hapoel Jerusalem vs. Ironi Nahariya, Hapoel Holon vs. Maccabi Haifa, Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Bnei Hasharon, and Hapoel Eilat vs. Maccabi Rishon.
Here is how the top four changed on the final day and how the teams are looking heading into knockout Basketball.
Hapoel Holon claimed the Winner League Regular Season with a 76-93 thumping over Galil Gilboa. The club is hunting its first ever league title and after an impressive 22-11 season, will be a dark horse through the Play-Offs. Wednesday’s victory saw the club leapfrog a losing Eilat into first place.
As for Hapoel Eilat, the club ended its Regular Season on a loss. Ironi Nahariya claimed an 80-78 win and both clubs take their place in the next round. Eilat knew that a win here would guarantee top spot, but the team slipped and finishes on a 21-12 record.
Third place in the final standings goes to Hapoel Jerusalem. The 2015 champions defeated Maccabi K/G 75-79 on the road to jump over Maccabi Tel Aviv and secured third place. The team finishes on 19-14 and after a good European campaign this season, will be prepared for knockout hoops. Jerusalem is a genuine threat on the title.
Israel and EuroLeague giant Maccabi Tel Aviv must settle for fourth place after losing 80-70 to Maccabi Ashdod away from home. The loss capped a disappointing season where the club has also failed to compete in the EuroLeague. However, Tel Aviv can redeem itself and will be the team to beat in the Play-Offs.
That said, over the last few years, the Israeli league has become an open shop. Once the preserve of Maccabi Tel Aviv, there have been four different champions in the last four season. Yes, one of them went to Maccabi Tel Aviv, but the club is no longer dominating and winning multiple titles in succession.
With that in mind, any team in the final eight could win the title.