Yellow-and-blue re-ups coach’s deal for at least two years, also signs Jackson • Jerusalem tops Mac Haifa.
By JOSHUA HALICKMANMaccabi Tel Aviv extended coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s contract until the end of the 2021/22 season, plus a one-year option. Since coming on board in November 2018, Sfairopoulos has turned the club around, with a 9-4 Euroleague record to date and a perfect 10-0 record in the Israel Winner League.Last season, the 52-year-old Greek helped lead the yellow-and-blue to the Israeli league title.“I am very happy to extend the collaboration with a such a big historical club such as Maccabi Tel Aviv,” said coach Sfairopoulos after signing the extension, adding, “I would like to thank the owners of Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv for trusting me and giving me the chance to continue to fight for the club’s glory.“I would also like to thank the team’s players, all my colleagues, the management, the coaches, doctors, physios and the office staff – they all work hard and together we try to bring wins and titles for Maccabi.”The coach continued and emphasized: “I am very proud that I will continue to be part of the Maccabi family and I am very excited that together with our great fans we will continue to write big history for Maccabi Tel Aviv.”“I think that signing coach Sfairopoulos on a long-term deal fits our strategy,” said sports director Nikola Vujcic. “It shows that Ioannis shares 100% the Maccabi DNA basketball-wise and personality-wise. His connection with the essence of the club, the fans and the Maccabi motto – that we always believe and never give up – is absolute. I’m happy today and I know that our fans are happy too and this is very important for all of us. Yalla Maccabi.”In addition to extending the coach’s contract, the yellow-and-blue also signed veteran guard Aaron Jackson to bolster the backcourt after Nate Wolters and John DiBartolomeo went down with injuries. The 33-year old Duquesne University product had been playing in China the past couple of seasons prior, where he featured for CSKA Moscow with whom he captured the 2016 Euroleague title.Jackson is expected to join the club next week.Meanwhile, Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Hapoel Tel Aviv 91-84 at the Drive-In Arena as it painted the city yellow-and-blue while moving its perfect league record to 10-0.Sfairopoulos has a very short roster with four players unavailable due to injury, but that didn’t stop Israeli swingman Yovel Zoosman from starring just a couple of days removed from the club’s huge Euroleague win over CSKA Moscow.Zoosman scored 15 points to lead Maccabi, but none were bigger than his back-to-back three-pointers late in the fourth quarter to give his squad the lead for good. Elijah Bryant and Tyler Dorsey each scored 14 points while Jake Cohen added 13 points and Deni Avdija chipped in with 11 points in the win.Latavious Williams recorded a double-double with 25 points and 12 rebounds and Tomer Ginat scored 18 points for Hapoel in the loss.On Tuesday night, the yellow-and-blue continued with its winning ways, notching an 82-71 victory over BC Zenit St. Petersburg, led by Dorsey’s 17 points and Othello Hunter’s 15.Elsewhere, Hapoel Jerusalem cruised to a 95-81 win over Maccabi Haifa at the Pais Arena in the capital. The Reds went out in front early, but Haifa hung around over the course of the first half. But Oded Katash’s squad pulled away in the second half and coasted to the 14-point victory.Idan Zalmanson led the way for Jerusalem with 17 points, J’Covan Brown added 15 points and Tamir Blatt chipped in with 14 points. Scott Suggs was the high scorer for Haifa with 19 points and Roman Sorkin posted another terrific game with 17 points in defeat.Also, Hapoel Holon dunked Ness Ziona 99-80 thanks to six players sporting double digits as Troy Caupain led the way for the hosts with 19 points and Richard Howell added 17 points in the win.Jeremy Hollowell was Ness Ziona’s top scorer with 16 points in the loss.Maccabi Rishon Lezion dropped Hapoel Gilboa/Galil 96-75 up north. Jordan Swing scored 19 points, Alex Hamilton added 18 points and Johnathan Williams recorded a double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds).Edgar Sosa, with 20 points, and Justin Tillman (19 points) led Gilboa/Galil in a losing cause.Hapoel Eilat sunk Maccabi Ashdod 98-78 at the Red Sea city. Rafi Menco led the way with 21 points, Jonathan Skjöldebrand added18 points and Eric Thompson scored 17 points in the win.Alex Chubrevich was struggling Ashdod’s high scorer with 14 points.