Maccabi Tel Aviv wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the BSL playoffs on Monday night, beating Maccabi Haifa 74-59 in the final game of the regular season at Nokia Arena to finish with a 22-6 record.
A defeat to Haifa would have seen Maccabi end the regular season in second place behind Hapoel Jerusalem, but the yellow- and-blue comfortably overcame the Greens on Monday.
An Andrija Zizic three-point play gave Tel Aviv a 34-26 gap at halftime and the yellow-andblue was in complete control after opening a double-digit margin in the third quarter.
Zizic finished with 14 points in 14 minutes for Maccabi, which will have the benefit of hosting the second game of the twolegged BSL final, as well as homecourt advantage in the quarterfinal and semifinal series. David Blu also scored 14 points, with Tyrese Rice adding 13 points and seven assists.
Donta Smith scored 10 points for Haifa.
Tel Aviv will welcome Hapoel Gilboa/Galil in its quarterfinal best-of-five series opener at Nokia Arena on Saturday, while Jerusalem will face Hapoel Holon in its series, which will begin on Thursday.
Also Thursday, Hapoel Tel Aviv will host Hapoel Eilat in Game 1 of their series. Haifa opens its quarterfinal against Ironi Ness Ziona on Saturday.
The winner of the series between Jerusalem and Holon will play either Haifa or Ness Ziona, while Maccabi and Hapoel will meet in a best-of-five derby series in the semis should both come through the first round of the post-season.
Earlier Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv center Sofoklis Schortsanitis was suspended for seven games by the Israel Basketball Association’s disciplinary court for his charge into the stands at Hadar Yosef in chase of a Hapoel Tel Aviv fan following the derby showdown between the teams earlier this month.
Monday’s game against Haifa was already the second contest missed by Sofo, meaning he will be able to come back no later than the third game of the BSL playoff semifinals, assuming of course Maccabi overcomes Gilboa.
Should the best-of-five series against Gilboa go the distance, Sofo will already be available to play in Game 1 of the semis.
The Greek center was also fined NIS 65,000 and handed a suspended 13-game suspension should he commit a similar offense in the next two years.
Also Monday, Maccabi center Alex Tyus was named as the Euroleague MVP for the month of April.