Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion 92-72 in an entertaining WINNER Cup semifinal clash at the Drive In Arena. The yellow-and-blue jumped all over the wine city squad in the first half as acting captain Scottie Wilbekin and big man Ante Zizic proved to be unstoppable early on. Guy Goodes’s team came out of the halftime on fire as Akil Mitchell, Noam Avivi and Darryl Monroe did their best to chip away at a 25-point deficit. However, Maccabi righted the ship in the final frame thanks to the Wilbekin and Zizic combination as they closed out the games and advanced to the finals of the preseason tournament.
Wilbekin led the way with 22 points and 7 assists, Zizic scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Tyler Dorsey added 16 points and rookie Max Heidegger scored 12 points for Maccabi in the win. Isaiah Taylor scored 17 points, Akil Mitchell chipped in with 14 points while Noam Avivi notched 12 points and 8 rebounds.
Darryl Monroe got things rolling with a triple for Rishon but Ante Zizic answered at the other end with a dunk, floater and layup while Sandy Cohen thread the needle to Oz Blayzer as Maccabi Tel Aviv took a 8-4 lead midway through the first quarter. Scottie Wilbekin went deep for a trio of triples, Dorsey scored from downtown as well while Othello Hunter put down a mega dunk for the yellow-and-blue. Isaiah Taylor and Akil Mitchell found the basket for Rishon but Maccabi grabbed a 32-18 advantage after ten minutes.
Tyler Dorsey hit his free throws, Hunter scored inside, Eidan Alber drilled home a 3-pointer and Max Heidegger scored his first points as a professional to bump Maccabi’s lead up to 47-23 with 4:33 remaining in the second quarter. Heidegger drilled a pair of triples, Blayzer scored as well as did Hunter as Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad took a 58-33 lead into halftime.
Monroe and Blayzer traded baskets, Mitchell put one in from the paint and Noam Dovrat scored a pair from deep as Guy Goodes’s team cut Maccabi’s lead to 61-44 midway through the third quarter. Taylor found points but Dorsey finally broke a 14-3 run at the other end for Sfairopoulos’s squad but Aviv followed it up with points in the paint for Rishon. Hunter found the bottom of the basket but so did Monroe as things continued to heat up with a double unsportsmanlike fouls to each team. Avivi once again scored in the paint, Mitchell put in a wide open dunk and Taylor got points as well but Maccabi stayed in front 73-59 after a wild frame.
Mitchell scored for Rishon but Zizic scored twice inside, but Dorsey was called for his second unsportsmanlike foul and was ejected from the contest. Wilbekin went from downtown and Zizic put down a monster slam as Maccabi kept the lead 82-66 with 5:18 remaining in regulation time. Taylor scored a layup but Heidegger hit a wide open 3-pointer as Maccabi sewed up a 20-point 92-72 win.