Maccabi Tel Aviv downs Beer Sheva as Zizic stars but loses Bender to ACL injury, Eilat gets by Haifa

Maccabi Tel Aviv downed Hapoel Beer Sheva 67-56 as Ante Zizic starred to take a 1-0 lead in their quaterfinals series. Yellow & Blue big man Zizic poured in 14 first half points to pace Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad as they broke open a tight game in the third quarter with a 17-0 run holding Rami Hadar’s team to just seven points in the frame to take the win.

However, the victory came at a cost for Maccabi as Dragan Bender suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament ACL in the first half of the game and will be out for the balance of the playoffs.

Dragan Bender – Photo Credit:

Zizic scored 20 points to lead all scorers, Angelo Caloiaro added 12 points and Scottie Wilbekin chipped in with 10 points and 6 assists in the win. Amir Bell and Amit Suss each scored 12 points and Spencer Weisz added 9 points in the loss.

Ante Zizic – Photo Credit: Sports Rabbi

Ante Zizic got things rolling for Maccabi Tel Aviv while Amir Bell and Amit Suss countered for Hapoel Beer Sheva as the score was all knotted up at 9-9 midway through the first quarter. Spender Weisz started heating up while Neta Segal also scored from downtown as Zizic kept ruling the paint for the Yellow & Blue with 12 first quarter points to give the hosts a 20-18 lead after ten minutes.

Maccabi Tel Aviv- Photo Credit:

TJ Cline scored his first points of the game for Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad while Bell scored for Rami Hadar’s team as Maccabi continued to stay in front 25-20 with 5:46 left in the second quarter. Bell schooled Casspi for a layup and Amit Suss hit his free throws but Zizic kept scoring inside and Angelo Caloiaro added a bucket inside to give the Yellow & Blue a slim 33-31 advantage after twenty minutes.

Omri Casspi – Photo Credit:

Casspi dropped a pair of baskets to get the third quarter going, Zizic dunked, Caloiaro scored in the paint and Yovel Zoosman finished off a break as Beer Sheva couldn’t score their easy looks to open up a 43-34 lead midway through the third quarter. Wilbekin scored a left handed floater, Caloiaro went from deep for Maccabi’s first triple of the game, Suss with a circus act layup and Bell with points tried to keep Beer Sheva in the game but yet another bucket in the paint by Zizic bumped up the lead to 52-38 after thirty minutes of play.

Spencer Weisz – Photo Credit:

Chris Jones and Travis Warech traded baskets while Warech then hit a 3-pointer to keep Beer Sheva hanging around down 54-43 with 6:22 left in the fourth quarter. Caloiaro and Zizic scored off the glass, Wilbekin and John DiBartolomeo iced the game from the line to take the 11-point win and a 1-0 series lead.

Hapoel Eilat sunk Hapoel Haifa 84-80 to thanks to a 10-0 fourth quarter run to take game one of their best of three quarterfinal series. The Red Sea squad took an early lead thanks to Jonathan Skjoldebrand and Casey Prather but Keenan Evans, Jason Siggers and Lennard Freeman helped Elad Hasin’s team take the lead in the third quarter. However, timely baskets by Markel Brown, Prather and Skjoldebrand led Ariel Beit Halachmi’s team to the hard earned victory. Prather scored 21 points, Skjoldebrand added 15 points while Brown and Joe Ragland each notched 14 points in the win. Evans led all scorers with 25 points, Siggers chipped in with 19 points while Freeman scored 15 points and grabbed 19 boards in the loss.

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