Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Hapoel Haifa 83-74 to advance to the WINNER Cup semifinals where Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion will be waiting. The yellow-and-blue led the game wire to wire in a convincing win that saw Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s team play their first domestic game of the season. The clash allowed a number of Maccabi players includinf Eidan Alber, Dori Sahar and Max Heidegger the chance to get in some playing time due to the club only having featured in Euroleague games thus far.
Oz Blayzer was the star of the show scoring 19 points, pulling down 8 rebounds and adding 4 assists, Othello Hunter scored 16 points while Ante Zizic chipped in the 15 points in the win. Jason Siggers led Haifa with 19 points, while Keenan Evans and Egor Nestrenko each added 15 points in the defeat.
Oz Blayzer started the game off with a bang for Maccabi hitting a 3-pointer while Ante Zizic added points early on as well as Jason Siggers found the bottom of the basket from deep with Maccabi in front 10-9 midway through the first quarter. An active Blayzer scored a layup, Chris Jones hit a jumper while Dragan Bender and Blayzer went from deep but Ziv Ben Tzvi and Egor Nestrenko scored to keep the game close with Maccabi up 23-17 after ten minutes.
Jones and Othello Hunter got things rolling for the yellow-and-blue to begin quarter number two but points by Karam Mashour and Siggers kept the score at 29-23 Maccabi with 7 minutes remaining in the first half. Hunter continued to find the basket in the paint, while Dori Sahar and Eidan Alber who made his Maccabi debut also scored but once again Siggers and Nestrenko kept Haifa hanging around down 37-31 with 3:50 to go in the second quarter. Scottie Wilbkein got into the act as his triple beat the shot clock, Jones fed Sandy Cohen for an alley-oop but the Elad Hasin’s team saw Amit Simhon drill a 3-pointer but Maccabi still held the upper hand 47-39 at halftime.
Blayzer and Zizic scored for Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad to begin the second half but Siggers, Keenan Evans and Simhon kept pace down by only 4 points, 54-50 midway through the third quarter. However, Jones sliced to the basket on the baseline while Blayzer and Bender drilled back to back triples and Hunter put in a dunk to bump the lead up to 68-55 after thirty minutes.
Max Heidegger made his yellow-and-blue debut to start the fourth quarter as the UC Santa Barbara guard signed with Maccabi in the offseason as Hunter scored inside while Blayzer and Zizic added points cancelling out baskets by Lenard Freeman and Evans as the yellow-and-blue stayed in front 75-61 with 4:43 remaining in regulation time. Zizic and Siggers traded buckets, Jones hit an efficient jumper in the lane and Zizic put the finishing touches on a 83-74 victory.