Maccabi Tel Aviv won their 53rd Israel Basketball League Championship as they defeated Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion 89-75 to take home the 2018/19 title. The yellow-and-blue pulled away over the final stages of the contest to roll over the wine city squad. John DiBartolomeo scored 15 points, DeAndre Kane dropped 14 points and Scottie Wilbekin added 14 points in the victory. Darryl Monroe paced Rishon with 22 points while Alex Hamilton added 18 points and Diamon Simpson chipped in with 13 points. DeAndre Kane earned The Sports Rabbi MVP.
Maccabi Tel Aviv came into the championship game looking to earn back to back titles while Rishon Le’Zion wanted to add to their lone championship captured against Hapoel Jerusalem in 2016. The only other time the two squads tipped off against each other for league supremacy was back in 1990/91 when the yellow-and-blue topped the wine city side 3-1 in their best of 5 series which incidentally featured Miki Berkovich Maccabi’s all time leading scoring playing for Rishon.
Coach Ioannis Sfairpoulos’s yellow-and-blue advanced to the title contest after squeaking by Hapoel Eilat in the semifinals as Scottie Wilbekin was the star of the show. Guy Goodes’s squad slipped by Hapoel Jerusalem with Diamon Simpson playing the central role as each squad looked to take an upper hand early on. Darryl Monroe hit the first bucket for Rishon and DeAndre Kane drilled a triple to get things going.
Tarik Black was a force inside for Maccabi while Monroe countered with a pair of jumpers but the yellow-and-blue jumped out to a 13-6 lead midway through the first quarter. Wilbekin got hot as the frame continued to bump up Maccabi’s advantage to 20-13 after ten minutes of action.
Alex Hamilton quickly cut the Maccabi lead but captain John DiBartolomeo immediately dropped five points to bring the advantage back up to 7 points. Hamilton, Black and DiBartolomeo then traded baskets as the game continued at a frantic pace. Oz Blayzer and Cameron Long each hit 3-pointers for Rishon as time wound down in the second quarter to cut the Maccabi lead to just pair of points, 44-42 at halftime of the championship clash.
Monroe pulled Rishon even seconds into the third quarter but Kane and Wilbekin hit a pair of triples to jump ahead once again as each squad battled for each point. DiBartolomeo drained a trio of free throws while Johnny O’Bryant cleaned up his errant attempt to give the yellow-and-blue their biggest lead of the night, 57-49 midway through the frame. But Hamilton and Nimrod Tishman kept Rishon on the mix, however, Kane, O’Bryant and DiBartolomeo gave Maccabi a 64-57 lead after thirty minutes of play.
DiBartolomeo and O’Bryant got the fourth quarter off to a good start while Yovel Zoosman and Michael Roll continued to help Maccabi pull away as Wilbekin topped off the victory to wrap up the 2018/19 championship.