Local Basketball: Hap J'lem outlasts Ironi Ashkelon in 6OT

Records 151-146 win in the longest game in Israeli basketball history; 11th straight victory propels Hapoel into first place.

hap jlem tapiro 298.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
hap jlem tapiro 298.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
In the longest game in Israeli basketball history, Hapoel Jerusalem defeated Ironi Ashkelon 151-146 after six overtimes in a postponed BSL game on Wednesday night. Jerusalem's 11th straight victory propelled the club into first place ahead of a struggling Maccabi Tel Aviv, which has played one less game but is on a rare two-BSL game losing streak. Jerusalem has 31 points from its 17 games, while Maccabi has 30 from 16 contests. Ashkelon, which recorded its first BSL win of the season on Sunday, began the game well and led 22-11 after 10 minutes. Hapoel closed the gap in the second period as Horace Jenkins and Meir Tapiro helped bring Jerusalem back to within 39-38 at halftime. Jerusalem continued to dominate host Ashkelon in the third quarter and an 18-9 run gave Hapoel a 63-54 lead heading into the final period of regulation. Ashkelon surged back at the start of the fourth quarter to take a 73-71 lead with four minutes to play, and the game went into what would be the first of many deciding moments. Two successful free throws by Ashkelon's Marcus Hatten tied the score at 79-79 and sent the game into its first overtime. Ashkelon pegged Jerusalem back once again in the overtime, with Shahar Cohen's free throw tying the score at 86 after 45 minutes. Jerusalem led at the start of the second overtime, but after Ashkelon had re-taken the lead, Jenkins was on hand for Jerusalem to force a third overtime with two free throws. Ashkelon might have thought it had won the game when, with three seconds remaining in the third OT, it led by three points. However, a Tapiro three-pointer as the clock ran out tied the score at 109 to bring on a fourth extra period. Jerusalem was ahead throughout the fourth overtime, but this time it was Hatten's turn to tie the score at 126 with his basket with eight seconds remaining. In the fifth extra period, Hapoel led 139-136 with only seconds remaining, but three free throws by Hatten again tied the score and forced an unbelievable sixth OT. Jerusalem opened a five-point lead in the sixth overtime from which Ashkelon did not return.