Maccabi & Eilat battle for Winner Cup, Reynolds, Ben Moshe and Jerusalem’s Bennett

Sep 25, 2021 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv will face Hapoel Eilat for in the WINNER Cup Final Sunday night (20:45) at the Drive In Arena to finish off their shortened preseason ahead of their opening Euroleague game on Thursday against Bayern Munich. The Yellow & Blue will enter the game without center Ante Zizic who suffered a slight tear in his thigh muscle and will be out 6 weeks.

Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad advanced to the championship game after downing Hapoel Jerusalem on Friday as Jalen Reynolds starred in the victory. “We knew that it wasn’t going to be easy and it is a rivalry that has been going on for a longtime,” the Maccabi big man said. “We wanted to fight and compete and it showed on the court.”

Jalen Reynolds – Photo Credit:

As for his return to Israel following a year at Bayern Munich, Reynolds spoke about his personal goals coming up this season, “I am more hungrier than I have ever been and I am working on being in the best shape and being the strongest big in the Euroleague.”

“Jalen is a multitalented player who can play with a lot of options to score and we will adjust our game around him because he is a power player for us,” Sfairopoulos stated about the game MVP.

Ioannis Sfairopoulos – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

As for the final, the bench boss has two goals, “The main goal is to win and take the title, while an important goal is to continue to build our game and our team. We are facing a good team who is coming into the game in goos shape and we gave to be very focussed on both defense and offense.”

Zizic’s loss will be significant for the Yellow & Blue as youngster Roman Sorkin will be potentially thrust into a critical role this coming week when the German club comes to town. But Sfairopoulos has not only been giving Sorkin serious playing time, he has also mentioned him in both post game press conferences this past week complimenting both his play and potential.

Justin Patton –

As for Eilat who will have three imports ready for action in Bryon Allen, Justin Patton and Romello White, Zuf Ben Moshe will be counted on for his sharp shooting especially from beyond the arc.

Coach Ariel Beit Halachmi spoke about his maturation as a player, “Shooting is one of the most important things in our game today and he took a big jump. He came into this season much more mature and he’s played the last two games very well. I hope he will continue this with his confidence.”

Over at Jerusalem, while the Reds kept the game close for most of the game, they fell apart in the 4th quarter and were outscored 25-9 over the final ten minutes. On one hand Oren Amiel has to be content that his squad was able to stand toe to toe with Maccabi for 30 minutes but as captain Adam Ariel stated it just wasn’t enough, “We started the game well with intensity and aggressiveness the way we wanted to but it wasn’t enough. We’ve got to take the good parts of the game and move on.

Oren Amiel – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

The bench boss also commented on the loss, “This was a great lesson on understanding how to keep up our consistency and we will learn from this. As hard as it was, this is what we have to keep doing.

However, one of the more interesting things of note was the lack of playing time given to Anthony Bennett who started but once he came out sat on the bench until the game was out of hand. Amiel even gave Sagiv David minutes late in the 3rd quarter and into the 4th before returning the 2013 #1 draft pick to the court.

Anthony Bennett – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

“I don’t think that I have to reference any one specific player. We have our thoughts as to who should play. We all make mistakes and I am part of that as well and that is what I thought to do at that certain moment.”

It should be stated that Bennett is with Jerusalem on a 1-month contract which will come to an end during the first week of October.

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