Ohayon returns to lead Mac TA past Hapoel

Jerusalem battles valiantly, only to have former star rally yellow-and-blue in OT.

Maccabi Tel Aviv's Yogev Ohayon 390 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Tel Aviv's Yogev Ohayon 390
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Yogev Ohayon came back to haunt Hapoel Jerusalem on Sunday night, scoring 20 points and dishing out eight assists to lead Maccabi Tel Aviv to a thrilling 104-100 overtime victory at Malha Arena.
Hapoel ended a 21-year drought at Nokia Arena in November, stunning Maccabi 78-64 for its first league win on the road against the yellow-and- blue since October 1, 1990.
It seemed on course for a rare double over Tel Aviv after opening a double-digit margin (67-57) late in the third period on Sunday.
But Ohayon would not be denied at his old hunting ground where he spent the previous two seasons, lifting Maccabi in the final frame and clinching the win in overtime after Ramel Bradley forced an extra five minutes with three free throws after time expired in regulation.
Ohayon led six Maccabi players in double figures, with David Blu, Keith Langford and Richard Hendrix adding 17, 16 and 15 points, respectively.
Yuval Naimi had 19 points and 10 assists for Jerusalem, with Bradley contributing 17 points and eight rebounds for the hosts, who can draw some encouragement from a spirited performance.
Jerusalem showed the urgency it so desperately lacked for much of this season right from the tipoff on Sunday, taking a 19-14 lead on a Naimi three-pointer, capping a 12-2 run.
D.J. Strawberry’s basket to end the first period extended the gap to six (23-17), but six straight points from Yogev Ohayon brought Maccabi right back, with Tal Bustein’s triple tying the game at 28-28.
There would be little to separate the teams for the remainder of the first half, with a Strawberry score giving the hosts a two-point edge (44-42) at the break.
Jerusalem looked to be the far hungrier team at the start of the second half and the local faithful couldn’t believe their eyes when Dan Grunfeld’s basket gave the hosts a 67-57 margin with 1:15 to play in the third.
Tel Aviv was in danger of losing touch, but six Blu points followed by an Ohayon triple to end the quarter meant Maccabi was back within one possession (69-66) with 10 minutes to play.
Langford’s three-point play with 3:06 remaining put Maccabi back in front (81-79), but Bradley’s three would give Hapoel an 86-85 advantage with 24.8 seconds to go.
Langford replied with another three-point move and Blu’s free throws with 8.2s left opened a three-point lead (90- 87) after Naimi only made one of two shots from the line.
Hapoel twice came close to turning over the ball in its final play of regulation, but instead Bradley would send the game into overtime from the line, hitting all three of his free throws with the clock at 0.0 after being fouled at the buzzer by Langford.
However, Jerusalem could not keep pace with the yellow-andblue in overtime, with Ohayon’s lay-up with 50.6s to play completing a 10-2 run (101-96) from which his former team was never going to come back.
Also Sunday, Maccabi Rishon Lezion bounced back from its State Cup final defeat to Maccabi Tel Aviv with an 84-79 win over Ironi Ashkelon.
Rishon was still licking its wounds in the first half, with Ashkelon taking a 51-34 margin into the interval.
However, an 18-3 run to end the third period brought Rishon back within striking distance (60-57) and the hosts surged to the victory in the final frame.
Brandon Bowman led Rishon with 23 points and 11 rebounds, with Raviv Limonad scoring 23 for Ashkelon.
Hapoel Gilboa/Galil maintained its hold on second place in the standings on Sunday, defeating BC Habika’a 84-77 on the road.
Romeo Travis, Courtney Fells and Joseph Jones led Gilboa to the win with 28, 24 and 21 points, respectively.
Paul Delaney scored 28 points for Habika’a, which chased Gilboa throughout the second half to no avail.
Maccabi Ashdod remained red hot on Sunday, beating Maccabi Haifa 84-74 on the road for its fourth straight BSL victory.
Ashdod, which defeated Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv in its last two games, opened a 35-27 halftime lead and effectively clinched the win with a 12-2 run to start the fourth frame (63-50).
Josh Carter had 19 points for Ashdod, with Alex Tyus adding 17.
Tyler Wilkerson had 17 points and 11 rebounds for Haifa, which hasn’t won a game in three months, losing 10 straight.