Wilbekin powers Maccabi to TA derby Win

Mitchell, Rishon crush Nahariya • Eilat sinks Hapoel Haifa • Holon handles Herzliya.

MACCABI TEL AVIV Scottie Wilbekin sizes up the Hapoel Tel Aviv defense during Sunday night’s Winner League derby at the Drive-In Arena. The 27-year-old point guard scored a game-high 23 points in Maccabi’s 85-69 conquest  (photo credit: DOV HALICKMAN PHOTOGRAPHY)
MACCABI TEL AVIV Scottie Wilbekin sizes up the Hapoel Tel Aviv defense during Sunday night’s Winner League derby at the Drive-In Arena. The 27-year-old point guard scored a game-high 23 points in Maccabi’s 85-69 conquest
Maccabi Tel Aviv easily got by Hapoel Tel Aviv 85-69 to take the Big Derby at the Drive-In Arena on Sunday night in Israel Winner League action.
The yellow-and-blue dominated every facet of the game from the get-go as Scottie Wilbekin had the hot hand scoring 18 first-half points to put Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad ahead 51-28 at the break as it rolled to the victory.
Wilbekin led the way for Maccabi with 23 points, Yovel Zoosman added 13 points and Othello Hunter put in 10 points in the win. Yam Madar scored 22 points while Bar Timor chipped in with 13 points and seven assists for Ioannis Kastritis’s team in defeat.
“We had great concentration and we started the game the way we wanted to,” explained Sfairopoulos. “We had a good passing game on offense and we shot well from outside. We controlled the game and deserved the win.”
Wilbekin reflected on the win following the game.
“We told ourselves to just focus on the game, only talk to ourselves and control what we can control. When we had a lead like we had today, it’s hard not to enjoy the game. Things worked for us today.”
Wilbekin, Zoosman and Angelo Caloiaro drilled home triples to get the derby under way while Madar hit a trio of baskets early on for Hapoel Tel Aviv in the first quarter. However, Maccabi Tel Aviv stayed in front 11-8 midway through the frame.
Hunter scored off the backboard and then added an alley-oop, Reggie Upshaw countered from downtown and JP Tokoto put points in as well for the Reds.
John DiBartolomeo and Dori Sahar each hit three-pointers and Hunter put down a big dunk, but an end-of-quarter heave by Timor cut the yellow-and-blue’s lead to 25-18 after 10 minutes.
Ante Zizic got the second quarter underway with a dunk and Wilbekin dialed up two buckets from long distance for Sfairopoulos’s squad but Gabe York hit a jumper and then jammed the ball home for Hapoel. Maccabi, however continued to build its lead up to 38-22 with 5:15 left in the first half.
Madar scored on a floater, but Wilbekin quickly scored seven points and Oz Blayzer scored a pair of baskets to give Maccabi a 51-28 advantage at halftime.
Madar scored a deuce to start off the third quarter while Tyrique Jones and Jonathan Mor followed that up with points in the paint for Hapoel, but Wilbekin continued where he left off in the first half to keep Maccabi ahead 56-36 midway through the period.
Madar and Upshaw drilled triples, but Blayzer and DiBartolomeo answered right back at the other end. Then a string of Hapoel free-throws closed the gap ever so slightly to 65-48 in favor of the yellow-and-blue after 30 minutes.
Jones put home a bucket to open up the fourth quarter, but Zoosman scored a pair immediately at the other end while Hunter added points in the paint to stay in front 73-54 with 6:53 left in regulation.
Timor scored a layup, Wilbekin went from downtown to add to his team-leading total, Zoosman scored from beyond the arc as well, DiBartolomeo put in a runner and Zizic joined the party as Maccabi took home the comfortable 16-point win.
Up north, Maccabi Rishon Lezion dismantled Ironi Nahariya 110-88 as Akil Mitchell scored 24 of his 32 points in the first half to lead the way for Guy Goodes’s squad.
Golan Gutt added 20 points, Darryl Monroe scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds while Trey Lewis chipped in with 13 points in the win. Jaron Blossomgame was the Nahariya high scorer with 23 points and Michael Young added 15 points in the loss that dropped the club’s record to 1-10 in the league’s basement.
“I knew that Nahariya were a bit short-handed so I knew that I would have the opportunities to be aggressive,” said Mitchell after posting arguably his best game in Israel. “My teammates kept finding me and it was just one of those nights. We played great as a team and I think it was a big step for us.”
Down south, Hapoel Eilat overcame Hapoel Haifa 89-80 as the Red Sea city squad snapped its two-game losing skid.
The Carmel Reds raced out to a 24-16 lead after the first quarter, but Ariel Beit Halachmi’s team roared back with a 34-11 second frame to take the lead and never look back.
Casey Prather scored 20 points, Markel Brown put down a 360-degree dunk and added 18 points while Joe Ragland pinched in with 10 points in the win.
Keenan Evans led the way for Haifa with 24 points while Lenard Freeman scored 12 points and pulled down 14 boards in the defeat for Elad Hasin’s team.
Elsewhere, Hapoel Holon topped Bnei Herzliya 85-71 as Stefanos Dedas’s squad used balanced scoring, as five players finished in double digits.
Tyrus McGee scored 17 points, Chris Johnson added 14 points while Guy Pnini and Isaiah Miles each checked in with 13 points apiece in the win. Max Heidegger and Terrell Parks paced Herzliya with 13 points each.