Yovel Zoosman and DeAndre Kane of Maccabi Tel Aviv in a game against Maccabi Rishon Lezion, June 13, 2019.
(photo credit: DOV HALICKMAN PHOTOGRAPHY/COURTESY)
Maccabi Tel Aviv won its 45th Israel Basketball Super League Championship on Thursday night by defeating Maccabi Rishon Lezion 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 also 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.
Maccabi Tel Aviv came into the championship game looking to earn back-to-back titles while Rishon Lezion wanted to add to its 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 took the best-of-five series 3-1, which incidentally featured Miki Berkovich, Maccabi’s all-time leading scoring playing for Rishon.
Tel Aviv coach Ioannis Sfairpoulos’s yellow-and-blue advanced to the final after squeaking by Hapoel Eilat in the semifinals with Wilbekin the shining star of the show. Guy Goodes’s squad slipped by Hapoel Jerusalem, with Simpson playing the central role.
On Thursday, each squad looked to take an upper hand early on. Monroe hit the first bucket for Rishon and 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 Maccabi’s advantage to 20-13 after 10 minutes of action.
Hamilton quickly helped Rishon cut into the Maccabi lead, but captain DiBartolomeo immediately dropped five points to bring the advantage back up to seven points.
Hamilton, Black and DiBartolomeo then traded baskets as the game continued at a frantic pace. Oz Blayzer and Cameron Long each hit three-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 see Tel Aviv 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 its biggest lead of the night (57-49) midway through the frame.
But Hamilton and Nimrod Tishman kept Rishon in the mix and continued to fight.
However, Kane, O’Bryant and DiBartolomeo gave Maccabi a 64-57 lead after 30 minutes of play and the gap just continued to widen.
DiBartolomeo and O’Bryant got the fourth quarter off to a good start while Yovel Zoosman and Michael Roll gave Maccabi the final push they needed to wrap up the 2018/19 championship.
Joshua Halickman, the Sports Rabbi, covers Israeli sports and organizes Israel sports adventures for tourists and residents (www.sportsrabbi.com) Follow the Sports Rabbi on Twitter @thesportsrabbi or feel free to contact the Sports Rabbi via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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