Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv proceeded to the State Cup Quarter-Finals after a commanding 98:73 road victory over Hapoel Haifa. After a tight first half, Scottie Wilbekin, with the help of Yovel Zoosman and John DiBartolomeo, ran away from the Reds midway through the third quarter and never looked back for a convincing 25 point win.
Zoosman and DiBartolomeo, who are returning from lengthy injuries, scored in double figures after seeing extended minutes tonight, paying back with high energy, excellent defense, and high percentages from beyond the arc. Wilbekin knocked down 6 of 12 shots from deep while adding 8 assists. Ante Zizic (12 points and 10 rebounds), and Othello Hunter (9 points, 8 boards) completed one another inside as Tyler Dorsey (12 points), and Sandy Cohen (8 points) contributed reliable minutes.
Giannis Sfairopoulos opened with Scottie Wilbekin, Yovel Zoosman, Oz Blayzer, Othello Hunter, and Ante Zizic in the starting five. Jason Siggers and Keenan Evans led the hosts to a quick 6:0 start, which led to a Sfairopoulos timeout two minutes in the contest. Zizic converted two from the free-throw line for Maccabi's first points of the night, and after multiple buckets from the visitors, Wilbekin gave the Yellow & Blue a 9:8 edge.
Amit Simhon found Igor Nesterenko in the paint for back to back baskets while Sandy Cohen responded on the other end, scoring five consecutive points as part of a 9:0 stretch, 20:15. Ex Maccabi Karam Mashour and Lennard Freeman closed out the first quarter, 22:19.
Rakeem Buckles hit two straight triples granting Haifa a two-point edge, Cohen blocked Simhon, which led to Tyler Dorsey's fastbreak points tying the game at 27. Wilbekin heated up from deep, drilling two-three pointers, including a 4 point play as Simhon and Siggers answered for the Reds, 35:38.
Wilbekin knocked down another shot from deep for his 13th point of the first half, Hunter converted a three-point play, and next possession, Zoosman grabbed an offensive board after a Hunter miss and laid in two, concluding an 8:0 Maccabi run, 43:38. Evans scored two from the charity strike setting the halftime score at 43:40 in favor of the Israeli champs.
Zizic went to work inside for the Yellow & Blue as Nesterenko and Evans cut the edge and regained the lead for Haifa's side's, 47:50. Zoosman started an incredible 17:0 run with back to back triples. John DiBartolomeo stumbled but held on to the ball and pulled up a circus shot at the end of the shot clock as Zizic recovered a Blayzer miss laying two in the paint, giving the visitors a 64:50 advantage.
Buckels stopped the lengthened run with a long shot from three. However, a Zizic block on the defensive end led to a DiBartolomeo triple, who added another one from deep after Cohen's assist opening a 19 point Maccabi margin. An Elad Hassin timeout didn't stop the Yellow & Blue captain who stole the ball from Siggers, which led to a Dorsey slam, 74:55.
The visitors continued to ramp up the margin as Zizic racked up points in the paint, and Wilbekin added two shots from three, 86:62. Dori Sahar and Yonatan Atias came in the final minutes and scored buckets for the visitors. Maccabi advances to the State Cup Quarter-Finals after a dominant 98:73 win.