Maccabi Tel Aviv cruised effortlessly into the Adriatic League final with an 82-60 victory over Buducnost at Nokia Arena on Saturday night, setting up a meeting against Cedevita Zagreb in Monday’s title game.

Maccabi took time to find its rhythm, scoring just six points in the first six minutes of the game. However, it seized control with a 16-2 run, opening a 12-point gap (24-12) from Devin Smith’s basket early in the second period before putting the game to bed by halftime.

The Montenegrins were hapless on offense and a 14-2 surge to end the second quarter, capped by a Keith Langford basket, gave the hosts an unassailable 42-20 margin at the break.

The gap reached an embarrassing 31 points (60-29) in the third frame, allowing Tel Aviv coach David Blatt to rest his starters ahead of Monday.

“We almost had a week to prepare for this game and for us that is a lifetime,” explained Blatt when asked about his team’s easy win.

“When we prepare properly everyone can see what we are capable of.

“We finished off the game by halftime.

“I gave my players some rest because I want them to be fresh for Monday.”

Lior Eliyahu led Maccabi with 18 points and nine rebounds, while Keith Langford and David Blu added 17 and 13 points, respectively.

Bojan Dubljevic scored 17 for Buducnost.

Tel Aviv will face Cedevita in the final after the Croatians beat Partizan Belgrade of Serbia 68-56 in the first semifinal of the evening at Nokia.

Christopher Owens had 18 points for the winners, with Miroslav Raduljica netting 15 for Partizan.

Three of the four BSL quarterfinals will get underway on Sunday, with Maccabi to begin its best-of-five playoff series against BC Habika’a on Wednesday after it completes its participation in the Adriatic League.

The most intriguing series on paper will begin at Malha Arena where Hapoel Jerusalem hosts Hapoel Holon in Game 1 on Sunday.

Jerusalem beat Holon in two of three meetings in the regular season, but coach Sharon Drucker knows that will be of little significance in the playoffs.

“I think this is the best series Israeli basketball has to offer,” said Drucker, whose team has home-court advantage in the series by virtue of finishing the regular season in fourth place.

“There have been many great games between the teams in the past, but there are different rules to the playoffs.

“I hope we can play well and battle to a victory in this series.”

Also Sunday, Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (2) hosts Maccabi Ashdod (7) and Maccabi Rishon Lezion (3) welcomes Ironi Ashkelon (6).

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