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Mentsch: John DiBartolomeo. Winner Cup Semis

Maccabi Tel Aviv 86-60 Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion
Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion by 26 points in a game that was never close. The Yellow & Blue’s size dominated the paint and their scoring was unstoppable all night long. John DiBartolomeo scored 19 points and dished our 6 assists, Jake Cohen dropped 14 points and pulled down 6 rebounds while Karam Mashour and Jonah Bolden each grabbed 9 boards a piece. Idan Zalmanson scored 13 points and Nitzan Hanochi added 12 points in the defeat.

Dov Halickman Photography

Ironi Nahariya 88-82 Hapoel Gilboa/Galil
Nahariya took a 28-10 lead after the first quarter and never looked back to take the xx win to set up as date with Maccabi Tel Aviv at Winner Cup Final on Thursday. Gilboa/Galil threatened Last in the game and pulled to within 5 points but that was as close as they would get. Alex Young and Corey Webster again led the way with 26 and 22 respectively for Nahariya while D’Angelo Harrison scored 25 points and Tyler Stone finished with a double-double 16 points and 12 rebounds.


1) Maccabi Tel Aviv looked very good and Coach Neven Spahija was happy with his team’s “Solid” performance. He praised his squad’s effort for not giving up many points off turnovers (10), controlling the paint and defensive boards (48 to 35 rebounds for Maccabi). “We had a deep bench and a fresh rotation where Rishon were well coached but had a short bench. They had a hard time playing the half court because of our size,” Spahija said. One more game to go to take home title #1 for Maccabi, then a trip to Eilat and off to Germany and Bamberg. How will the Yellow & Blue perform in the next three games? Will Norris Cole, Pierre Jackson and DeAndre Kane be back? And when the are back how will they integrate into the team? We will see soon.

Dov Halickman Photography

Dov Halickman Photography

2) John DiBartolomeo is the man. He ran the game like a real pro and showed again why he was the league’s MVP last year. 19 points, 4/6 from 2, 3/7 from beyond the arc, dished out 6 assists and picked up 3 steals for a 23 value ranking, not too bad. Spahija was asked about JDB and expectations for the Euroleague from him, “I’m preparing him to be a point guard in the Euroleague from day one. He is developing well and I think he is going to change his career, his life and our life.” DiBartolomeo couldn’t have been more humble when told about his coach’s comments, “That’s really nice to hear. I’m working my hardest to get better every day and I’d be happy with that progression.” Not only is John the man but as I’ve said so many times, he’s the ultimate “Mentsch”.

3) In the second semifinal both Nahariya and Gilboa/Galil showed up in white uniforms forcing both teams to wear practice and warmup gear. Miscommunication, it happens sometimes especially in the preseason. If the players and coaches are just warming up so is the The Israel Basketball League. But that’s fine too. The League has to be one of the most dynamic and well run companies in the country. Tons of credit has to go to Shlomi Peri the league’s media officer, chief cook and bottle washer. Not only do they handle the in game activities at the highest level, the off court information is second to none. Edli Marcus the CEO may be a quiet figure in the public eye but I’m certain that he is providing the leadership across the company where it counts and has surrounded himself with an exceptional staff.

Dov Halickman Photography

DiBartolomeo also spoke about the game itself and how the team has been getting to used to each other, “We controlled the second half but we have stuff to work on if we want to win the next game. It’s a unique situation and everyone is new to each other from the coaching down to the last player except for Itay. It’s a process but it’s nice to go through to together. We are all starting from the same spot.”

Jake Cohen also addressed the team’s performance and his return to the Yellow & Blue, “The win was a good step for us and that is what this season is all about, to fix mistakes and keep improving. In regards to coming back to Maccabi, I’m a totally different person now and three years will do that to you, I’m happy I had the experiences I did over that time and to be able to return a different player.”

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