Three and a half months after winning the Israeli championship, Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv began the 2020/21 Israeli Winner League with an 86:74 home victory over Hapoel Eilat in Menora Mivtachim Arena. The Yellow & Blue check down their first game of the loaded week that will feature Maccabi Ashdod on Monday in the State Cup and end on Thursday at home vs. Zalgiris Kaunas.
Chris Jones, Elijah Bryant, Sandy Cohen, Oz Blayzer, and Ante Zizic started in Maccabi's opening lineup. The Croatian big man scored the Yellow & Blue's first points of the new local season and added an easy slam as Tzuf Ben Moshe tallied Eilat's first five points of the game, 8:5. Josh Nebo totaled two consecutive buckets giving the visitors their first edge of the evening, Bryant countered with two jump shots on the other end, 14:15.
The momentum shifted to the hosts as Dori Sahar finished a fastbreak with an easy two. Scottie Wilbekin threw a full-court pass to Sandy Cohen, who laid it in on the final buzzer ending the first quarter with a 20:15 Maccabi advantage.
The Yellow & Blue added on completing a 15:0 run as added Wilbekin drilled a triple. Bryant added another mid-range jumper. With an excellent defensive possession, Cohen slammed it down on the other end, opening a double-digit lead, 27:15. Ben Moshe stopped the host's stretch, but Maccabi kept the advantage as both teams exchanged buckets, 31:20.
The Israeli champions increased the margin, scoring ten unanswered points highlighted by an alley-oop pass by Wilbekin to Cohen, who slammed it home for his 12th point of the first half, 41:20. Eilat closed the half with an 11:4 stretch responded as Markel Brown, Ben Moshe and Casey Prather reduced the lead to 14, 45:31.
Bryant led a fastbreak dishing a behind the back pass to Zizic, who laid it in, and a possession later, the guard beat the buzzer with a triple, 50:35. Joe Ragland, Nebo, and Ben Moshe scored collectively eleven unanswered points, diminishing Maccabi's margin all the way down to four, 50:46.
A Bryant three-pointer and a block on the defensive end, which was completed with an Oz Blayzer dunk, helped Maccabi shift the energy, 55:46. Ragland and Prather kept the southern squad in striking distance, closing out the third quarter with a 4 point deficit, 61:57.
Jones pulled up from deep for his first points of the evening, Ragland responded on the other end, but Cohen had the final word knocking a possession later from three, 68:60. Jones added another triple, and Wilbekin worked Zizic inside, increasing the lead back to double digits, 74:64.
Ragland and Ben Carter tried to reduce the advantage in the final minutes, but again it was the American guard who hit a floater on the verge of the shot clock, and the Croatian center added four points in the paint. Maccabi checks down their first domestic game of the season with an 86:74 win over Eilat.