Maccabi Haifa moved into sole possession of second place yesterday after beating Barak Netanya 89-75. Netanya (11-6) had been tied with Haifa (12-6), while Hapoel Jerusalem fell behind the pace with a 102-99 overtime loss on the road to lowly Nahariya.
Netanya had notched impressive wins recently against Maccabi Tel Aviv and in Jerusalem, but never could match up with Haifa yesterday. Forward Davon Jefferson ended a slump with 10 third-quarter points to break the game open and give Haifa a 64-50 lead going into the final period.
Coach Arik Alfasi's shouting finally got through to the Netanya players, who shaved the lead to five but could draw no closer, as Haifa coach Avi Ashkenazi claimed his 100th career victory.
In losing to the second worst team in the league, Jerusalem once again was unable to translate its success in Europe into wins at home. Steven Smith scored 24 points and pulled down 13 rebounds, and Lamar Greer added 21 as five Netanya players reached double figures.
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