Hapoel Jerusalem pulls it off once again

Jerusalem defeats Maccabi Rishon Lezion 101-95 after overtime, a week after beating Maccabi Haifa at home with a dramatic comeback.

Hapoel Jerusalem 298.88 (photo credit: Blake-Ezra Cole)
Hapoel Jerusalem 298.88
(photo credit: Blake-Ezra Cole)
Hapoel Jerusalem made its fans sweat for a second straight week on Saturday night, but yet again the Malha faithful went home with smiles across their faces.
Jerusalem defeated Maccabi Rishon Lezion 101-95 after overtime, a week after beating Maccabi Haifa at home with a dramatic comeback.
“We knew we would suffer a hangover from the Valencia game,” said Jerusalem coach Guy Goodes, referring to his team’s stunning Eurocup Last 16 victory in Spain on Tuesday.
“I’m happy we managed to claim the win. It is important to triumph in these types of games.”
Dijon Thompson led Jerusalem with 25 points, scoring nine of 10 of his two-point attempts. Yogev Ohayon added 18 points, with Brandon Hunter contributing 15 points and eight rebounds and Yuval Naimi scoring 12 points.
Rod Grizzard scored 25 points for Rishon, with Aaron McGhee adding 19 for Effi Birenboim’s team, which had won its previous four games.
The lead exchanged hands several times in a tight first period and a Ohayon basket gave the hosts a 21-20 advantage after 10 minutes.
The second quarter was just as close, but Hapoel, which hosts Galatasaray in the Eurocup on Tuesday, was still ahead at the break, with Tre Simmons’ two-points opening a 45-40 lead at the break.
A Brandon Hunter dunk gave the hosts their first double-digit margin of the night (64-54) and Hapoel took a 69-58 gap into the final 10 minutes.
However, Goodes’s team never looked comfortable and Rishon came back at the start of the fourth quarter. The visitors went on a 13-2 run to tie the score, with Grizzard’s basket making the score 71-71.
Two consecutive triples by former Hapoel favorite Meir Tapiro gave Rishon the lead briefly (79-78), but the teams could still not be separated with a minute remaining (82-82).
Larry O’Bannon gave the visitors an 84-82 advantage with 43 seconds to play from the free-throw line, but Naimi hit a long jumper in Hapoel’s next possession and the game went into overtime after O’Bannon missed at the buzzer.
Jerusalem began the extra period with five straight points and would remain in front until the final buzzer. Rishon continued to fight and was never too far behind, but the hosts held on for another nail-biting victory.
On Sunday, Maccabi Tel Aviv will hope to gather momentum ahead of Thursday’s crucial Euroleague Top 16 encounter against Real Madrid.
Maccabi suffered a 76-72 defeat at Montepaschi Siena on Thursday and also lost its last BSL game, falling to Barak Netanya.
Pini Gershon’s men face a difficult game against Maccabi Haifa at the Nokia Arena on Sunday in a repeat of last year’s Final Four title game won by the yellow-and-blue.
Haifa enters the showdown on the back of its first league defeat in more than two months after having its seven match winning streak snapped by Jerusalem last week.
Also Sunday, Netanya visits Ironi Nahariya, Ironi Ashkelon hosts Hapoel Gilboa/Galil and Ironi Ramat Gan welcomes Bnei Hasharon.
Hapoel Afula hosts Hapoel Holon on Monday.
On TV: Ironi Ashkelon vs Gilboa Galil (live at 7:40 p.m. on Sport5); Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Maccabi Haifa (live at 8:55 p.m. on Channel 10)