Maccabi Tel Aviv overwhelmed Kiryat Ata 95-71 to set up a Winner Cup Semifinal clash with Hapoel Tel Aviv on Thursday (9pm) back at the Drive In Arena. After a close first half that saw the yellow-and-blue head into the break in front 40-35, Oded Katash’s crew turned up the offense to as six players featured in double-digits to take the win.
Josh Nebo led the way with 16 points, Bonzie Colson put in 14 points, John Dibartolomeo added 13 points and Antonius Cleveland scored 12 points in the win. James Batemon scored 13 points while Raz Adam and Amin Stevens each scored 11 points in the loss.
“We did the job at the at the end of day,” Katash said. “But the second quarter we didn’t do what we needed to and we were not focused but finally we pulled away and took the win. We want to play a certain way and it may take time for the players, but we didn’t do simple things in the first half and in the second did. As for Hapoel Tel Aviv on Thursday, if we aren’t sharp which was the case in this game, it won’t be easy.”
“There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic especially from the first 26-27 minutes or so,” Sharon Avrahami said. “We defended well and were in the game but at some point we didn’t have the energy and Maccabi really started to run in the second half. I’ve told the players that we are a team that has to be built on defense and that is how we will win games. There were many minutes where our Israelis played well and we need that to be successful.”
Rafi Menco also spoke about the win, “We lost our focus when we started dealing with the refs and that shouldn’t have happened. We have to focus on our game and that’s what we did in the second half and I’m happy that we won. As for Hapoel Tel Aviv one hand it’s the Winner Cup and preseason but it’s also a Derby and the best team will win. We have to go into the game and win it.”
Wade Baldwin began the game off with a triple while Josh Nebo and Bonzie Colson scored on the inside for Maccabi Tel Aviv, but Amin Stevens and Raz Adam kept Kiryat Ata close down 11-8 midway through the quarter. John Dibartolomeo went from deep, while Baldwin and Colson kept filling the basket, Ben Saraf took the ball to the bucket but once again Baldwin scored to give the yellow-and-blue a 22-14 lead after ten minutes of play.
Rafi Menco got the second quarter started just as Baldwin began the first with a 3-pointer, Antonius Cleveland hit a jumper, Nebo scored in the paint, Adam, James Batemon and Stevens countered for Sharon Avrahami’s squad, Dibartolomeo and Tomer Porat traded triples as Maccabi took a 40-35 advantage into halftime.
Ryan Mikesell and Dibartolomeo each hit a 3-pointer for their respective teams to begin the third quarter, Adam went from beyond the arc, Colson scored a pair of 3-point plays, Dibartolomeo found points from the outside and on the inside, Guy Palatin and Saraf kept Kiryat Ata hanging around but a Jake Cohen 3-pointer, Cleveland 3-point play and Tamir Blatt triple gave Oded Katash’s team a 70-58 lead after thirty minutes of action.
Roman Sorkin dunked and scored inside to lead off the fourth quarter, Menco went to the hoop, James Webb drilled home a 3-pointer, Nebo dunked and youngster Omer Mayer went back to back from deep as Maccabi raced off with the 24-point victory.