Basketball / Super League / Hapoel Jerusalem opens door for Maccabi to step in
Yogev Ohayon, the former Hapoel star, was ironically the hero for Maccabi, scoring 20 points and dishing out eight assists as he engineered the visitors’ comeback.
Hapoel Jerusalem led for most of the way last night but could not shut the door on Maccabi Tel Aviv, which rallied in the fourth quarter to escape Malha with a 104-100 win.
As well as Hapoel played to build its lead − which reached 10 late in the third quarter − the hosts made enough mental errors to let Maccabi catch up and nearly win, if it weren’t for Ramel Bradley canning three free throws to send the game into an extra period.
Yogev Ohayon, the former Hapoel star, was ironically the hero for Maccabi, scoring 20 points − including three-for-three from beyond the arc − and dishing out eight assists as he engineered the visitors’ comeback.
Hapoel flirted with the lead in the first half as Maccabi achieved parity on a few occasions, only to fall behind again. Hapoel was up two at halftime.
A 12-3 run made it 67-57 to Hapoel with a minute remaining in the third quarter, but David Blu followed a three-point play with a trifecta to close the gap to four going into the fourth quarter.
Maccabi dogged Hapoel until a Keith Langford basket gave them their first lead since the first quarter at 80-79 with three minutes remaining. Two minutes later, Tal Burstein made a crucial steal and a fast-break layup with the score knotted at 83, to retake the lead 85-83.
Bradley popped a desperate three-pointer with 24.8 ticks left off a pass from Yuval Naimi − who paced Hapoel with 19 points and 10 assists − with the shot clock about to expire, putting Hapoel Jerusalem back up 86-85.
On Maccabi’s next possession, Hapoel’s players were thinking their opponents would go for the last shot, but Langford had other ideas. Ohayon inbounded the ball to Langford, who drove into the lane with three red jerseys, laid in the ball with an underhand motion and drew a foul to boot. His free throw made it 88-86 to Maccabi with 19.6 seconds left.
Hapoel coach Sharon Drucker called a time-out and told his players they had plenty of time to pick their shot. Naimi held the ball for a few seconds before driving into the paint and drawing a foul by Guy Pniny at the 10-second mark. Hot all game, he missed the front end of his two free throws, causing mayor Nir Barkat to grimace on the sidelines.
Uri Kokia fouled Blu with 8.2 seconds left. Blu, in contrast to Naimi, coolly hit his free throws.
D.J. Strawberry nearly turned the ball over on Hapoel’s final possession, but the ball bounced off a Maccabi player.
Bradley took an off-balance shot but was fouled by Langford − his fifth − as time expired. Maccabi claimed Bradley had stepped on the three-point line, but upon review the refs gave him three free throws and he sunk all three to send the game into overtime.
Maccabi was less forgiving in overtime, and dominated the entire five minutes to raise its league-leading record to 13-2.