Doron Sheffer and Hapoel Tel Aviv had their chances to win, but a late collapse gave Maccabi Rishon an opportunity, which Or Eitan and Moran Roth took advantage of, as the home side roared back for a 90-86 overtime victory in the Iceman's first game back from his second retirement.
A Sheffer three midway through the fourth quarter put Tel Aviv up 66-51, but the reds made only 4-of-8 free throws in the final 80 seconds and Eitan drilled three three-pointers against his former team in the final minute of regulation to carry Rishon back.
Roth tied the game at 74 with 18.6 seconds left. Sheffer had the ball for the last possession, but lost it in the closing seconds and Rishon was denied a chance to win the game in regulation when the referees ignored a foul as John Gilchrist attempted a lay-up at the buzzer.
Hapoel took the early lead in the extra period before Eitan tied the score at 81-81 with another trey. The game slipped away from Tel Aviv on the glass when Roth scored and was fouled with 48.4 seconds left, missed the free throw and Rishon grabbed the rebound.
Gilchrist was then fouled, made one free throw and then missed the second. Again Rishon grabbed the ball and after Roth made two from the charity stripe, the hosts were ahead 86-81 with 29.3 seconds to go, essentially gifting the game to Guy Goodes, who was named Coach of the Month for December before the game.
Just one week after making a surprise appearance to light Hanukka candles before the top-of-the-table clash between Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv, Sheffer, who announced before the season started that he wouldn't be returning to basketball, was in the starting lineup and logged 36 minutes, scoring 13 points.
He looked sharper than expected and was a key part of the team's passing game, even though poor finishing from teammates left him with just three assists.
Roth led Rishon with 19 points, Omar Sneed added 18, Eitan 15 and Gilchrist 13.
JeRon Roberts and Marcus Hatten led Tel Aviv with 21 and 18 points, respectively.
Ironi Nahariya 86,Elitzur Ashkelon 65
Cory Carr had 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists against his former team as Nahariya cruised to an easy win in Ashkelon. Otis Hill added 21 points and Jayson Wells 13 points and 12 rebounds.
The visitors led 37-33 at halftime, and put the game away with an 18-2 third-quarter run. Brian Tolbert had 18 and Andre McCollum 15 in defeat.
Galil-Golan 106,Ramat Hasharon 91
Uche Nsonwu scored a season-high 25 points and added 13 boards to lead Hapoel Galil-Golan past Ramat Hasharon at Kfar Blum. Jason Straight had 18 points and nine assists for Galil, while David Logan and Jeremy Veal scored 26 and 24 points, respectively, in defeat.
Also Monday, Itai Lev had 23 points as Ironi Ramat Gan edged Maccabi Givat Shmuel 77-72.
The scheduled game between Hapoel Jerusalem and Bnei Hasharon has been postponed to January 24. Maccabi Tel Aviv benefited from a bye week.
Jerusalem looks toadvance in ULEB Cup
Hapoel Jerusalem welcomes European legend Dejan Bodiroga and Lottomatica Roma to Malcha on Tuesday night knowing that a win will clinch the reds a spot in the next stage of the ULEB Cup.
Jerusalem enters the game with a 5-2 mark in Group D having won three straight. Even though Roma has struggled to a 2-5 record, it can not be underestimated.
Coach Svetislav Pesic's squad is tied for third place in the tough Italian league with a 10-4 record and features several players with a rich Euroean pedigree, including star guard David Hawkins (19.5 ppg.), playmaker Vlado Ilievski and center Thomas Van den Spigel (9.3 ppg., 6.7 rpg.), who missed the past five weeks with injuries. At age 32, Bodiroga's (11.3 ppg.) best days may be behind him, but the three-time Euroleague champ can still take a game over.
Hapoel's Horace Jenkins (20.1 ppg., 4.6 apg.) will play despite needing stitches over his right eye after colliding with Ido Kozikaro during practice over the weekend.
Erez Edelstein's charges should be well rested after Sunday's scheduled game against Bnei Hasharon was postponed, giving them five days' rest since their last game, a State Cup victory over Hapoel Tel Aviv.
Jerusalem recorded a 94-91 win when these teams met in November, thanks to a super performance from reserve center Erez Marckovich who had 18 points and 13 rebounds off the bench.