Mac TA downs Rishon, earns spot in final

Wilbekin and Zizic lead yellow-and-blue in Winner Cup semi • Hapoel Eilat beats Ness Ziona in league opener.

MACCABI TEL AVIV guard Scottie Wilbekin led the yellow-and-blue to a 20-point conquest of Maccabi Rishon Lezion in their Winner Cup semifinal duel.  (photo credit: DOV HALICKMAN PHOTOGRAPHY)
MACCABI TEL AVIV guard Scottie Wilbekin led the yellow-and-blue to a 20-point conquest of Maccabi Rishon Lezion in their Winner Cup semifinal duel.
(photo credit: DOV HALICKMAN PHOTOGRAPHY)
Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Maccabi Rishon Lezion 92-72 on Sunday night in an entertaining Winner Cup semifinal clash at the Drive-In Arena.
The yellow-and-blue jumped all over the wine city squad in the first half as acting captain Scottie Wilbekin and big man Ante Zizic proved to be unstoppable early on.
Guy Goodes’s team came out of the halftime on fire as Akil Mitchell, Noam Avivi and Darryl Monroe did their best to chip away at a 25-point deficit. However, Maccabi righted the ship in the final frame thanks to the Wilbekin-Zizic combination as the yellow-and-blue closed out the game and advanced to the finals of the preseason competition, where it will face Hapoel Holon at an unspecified date.
Wilbekin led the way with 22 points and seven assists, Zizic scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Tyler Dorsey added 16 points and rookie Max Heidegger scored 12 points for Maccabi in the win.
Isaiah Taylor scored 17 points, Mitchell chipped in with 14 points while Avivi notched 12 points and eight rebounds in defeat.
“We started the game well and played very smart both on offense and defense,” said Maccabi coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos. “We shot the ball really well inside and from the outside and we had a very productive first half. We stopped playing well in the third quarter and we lost our concentration, but in the fourth quarter we played better basketball and we had some good defensive stops.”
Rishon coach Goodes reflected on the defeat.
“It was hard for us to react in the first half and Maccabi were able to do whatever they wanted to on the court especially with their superior size and physical ability. I’m happy we played better in the third quarter, but we have a short rotation while Maccabi has a much deeper bench.”
Elsewhere, the Israeli Winner Basketball League 20/21 season got under way in Eilat as the host side downed Ness Ziona 95-85 in a one-sided affair.
The Red Sea City squad built up a huge 53-35 lead over the course of the first half and then cruised to the win.
Casey Prather led the way for Ariel Beit Halachmi’s team with 23 points and six rebounds, Joe Ragland added 22 points and six assists. Zuf Ben Moshe chipped in with 15 points with four three-pointers and rookie center Josh Nebo scored 13 points and grabbed nine boards in the victory.
For Brad Greenberg’s squad, which was only able to dish out a total of five assists throughout the game, Patrick Miller scored 24 points and Kwan Cheatham added 20 points in defeat.