From Yarone Arbel, PA Sport, Tel Aviv
Hapoel Tel Aviv and Ironi Nahariya won their first-leg eighth-final games in the Israeli Cup against foes who, like themselves, are taking part in FIBA Europe competitions.
Ironi Nahariya won 93-90 at fellow EuroCup side Galil Elyon while another EuroCup side, Hapoel Tel Aviv, prevailed 87-77 at Ironi Ashkelon, a team taking part in this season's EuroCup Challenge.
Nahariya prevailed but they now the margin of victory could have been far greater.
At one stage of the fourth quarter, their advantage had ballooned to 16 points.
The EuroCup MVP of the week, Jay Straight, once again acted as a saviour and led Galil back in the game, with his two free throws at the end finishing off the scoring for the night.
|Branko Milisavljevic had 19 points for Nahariya against Galil|
Straight led Galil with 25 points and Sasa Bratic added 22. For Nahariya, Otis Hill had 24 points and Branko Milisavljevic weighed in with 19 points.
It was an excellent week for Straight, who had 35 points, the final two at the end of overtime, to give Galil an overtime win over Dynamo Moscow Region.
Hapoel Tel Aviv triumphed thanks to another huge performance from Marcus Hatten, who finished with a triple-double of 29 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists and also came up with five steals.
Ashkelon got an outstanding contribution from Brandon Kurtz, who had 21 points and 17 rebounds.
The home side led 40-33 at half-time but Hapoel took over after the intermission when Hatten was doing most of his damage.
The visitors went on a 25-10 run and built a lead that reached 19 points at one stage.
Ashkelon clawed their way back and gave themselves a fighting chance of advancing, although they must win by more than seven points in Tel Aviv.
Hapoel have additional cause for optimism after signing Ernest Brown, who played in the victory at Ashkelon.
In other games, Maccabi Tel Aviv struggled more than expected at Hapoel Afula from the National League but ended up claiming a 113-90 success.
Hapoel Jerusalem rode a strong fourth quarter to a 92-63 victory over Givat Shmuel.
Ramat Hasharon edged Maccabi Rishon Lezion 71-68 with 15 points from 18-year-old Niv Berkovic, the son of the legendary Miki.
In three other games, Hapoel Lev Hasharon lost 91-68 at home to Bnei Hasharon, Ironi Ramat Gan thrashed their hosts Hapoel Holon 101-76 and Maccabi Petakh Tikva beat Hapoel Givataim 103-68.