Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv continues to dominate the Tel Aviv Derby beating Hapoel in the third matchup between the two sides, 80:77. Giannis Sfairopoulos's squad erased a 16 point deficit thanks to an incredible performance by Chris Jones, who finished with a season-high 26 points and 5 assists, improving Maccabi's Israeli Winner League record to 14:3 on the season.
Omri Casspi led the Yellow & Blue's in the first half finishing the night with 6 points and 7 rebounds. John DiBartolomeo (4 assists), Scottie Wilbekin (10 points), Oz Blayzer (great energy), and Othello Hunter (9 points, 8 rebounds) ignited the comeback midway through the third quarter and completed it in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Maccabi's next challenge comes on Thursday as they head out to Athens to face Oded Katash's Panathinaikos.
"Hapoel started really well, and although we knew the importance of the game, we were flat in the beginning", Said head coach Giannis Sfairopoulos after the win. "We improved quarter by quarter, especially on the defensive end allowing only 35 points in the second half, which led to better offense playing smarter. The game was concluded by the small details in the final minutes, as we had the quality and the experience to get the victory. Although we didn't play well, the most crucial thing in a derby is the win".
About Jones's recent form: "Since sitting out in the Israeli League, he deserves a lot of credit after showing up differently and leading with his personality".
"The most important thing is getting the win, it wasn't our best game, but in the derby, you need to get the W", Added Oz Blayzer at the postgame press conference. "It was my first derby with fans, so although there were only 300 of them in the stands, they gave us a strong push throughout the game and especially in the crucial minutes. Hopefully, more and more will be allowed into the arena, and by the end of the season, we will have a full house".