Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv's return to the domestic league didn't go as planned, experiencing a 70:79 defeat to Hapoel Gilboa/Galil in Menora Mivtachim Arena, marking their second loss this season in the Israeli league. Ante Zizic's 23 points and 9 rebounds weren't quite enough, as the Yellow & Blue don't have much time to grieve as their next assignment comes on Sunday against Hapoel Tel Aviv in Shlomo Group Arena.
Maccabi began with Chris Jones, Yovel Zoosman, Oz Blayzer, Dragan Bender, and Othello Hunter in the opening five. Gilboa/Galil started with Yiftach Ziv, Amit Gershon, Joe Thomasson, Jehyve Floyd, and Kerry Blackshear.
Both teams couldn't find the basket in the first three minutes of the contest, as Blackshear broke the scoreless stretch converting a three-point possession while Jones tallied the host's first two from the free-throw line, 2:3. Gershon and Thomasson knocked down back-to-back triples, but the Yellow & Blue locked down defensively with three consecutive steals leading to a 10:0 run, scoring easy layups by Jones, Zoosman, and Ante Zizic, 12:9. Yotam Hanochi concluded the visitor's 7:2 stretch with a three-pointer closing out the quarter with a 2 point edge, 14:16.
Maccabi fed the ball to Zizic inside, who scored 8 points with multiple hook shots, while Hanochi and Blackshear responded on the other end, keeping it tight, 26:27. Thomasson tallied five straight points for Gilboa/Galil giving the Reds an 8 point margin, but Bryant and Hunter's layups cut the lead by half, 30:34 at halftime.
The Yellow & Blue started the second half on a strong note with an 8:2 run as Bender initiated it, knocking down a shot from deep, and Bryant concluded it grabbing an offensive board and laying two in, 38:36. Gershon and Hanochi flipped the score with three-pointers, Dori Sahar, who received his first action midway through the third, laid in two, and Zizic added to his dominant afternoon, 48:50.
The hosts capped the quarter with a 9:2 stretch as John DiBartoloemo, Blayzer shot back-to-back threes, and Hunter converted a three-point play giving Maccabi a 2 point margin heading into the final 10 minutes, 57:55.
Sahar added on to the lead with a shot from deep, but the momentum shifted as Blackshear and Thomasson turned the score leading to a 12:2 run, 62:67. Jones pulled up for a mid-range jumper, but Blackshear put the Reds on his back, hitting five straight points giving the visitors an 8 point margin. The Yellow & Blue missed shots from deep, and Ziv closed the deal with a three-pointer. Gilboa/Galil beats Maccabi, 79:70.