Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv will meet Maccabi Rishon Le'Zion in the Winner Cup Semi-Finals after beating Hapoel Haifa 83:74 in Shlomo Group Arena. In their first official local action, Oz Blayzer took command early, scoring 10 points of his 19 points in the first quarter, adding 8 rebounds. Othello Hunter (16 points), Ante Zizic (15 points, 8 rebounds), and Dragan Bender (9 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 blocks) were too much for the Reds.
Scottie Wilbekin, Sandy Cohen, Oz Blayzer, Dragan Bender, and Ante Zizic opened in Maccabi's starting five. Blayzer knocked in the first 3 points of the game after a Zizic assist as the big man grabbed an offensive board and added three of his own after converting a three-point play, 7:4.
Jayson Siggers drilled a corner three for his 5th point early on, cutting the lead down to one, and Blayzer continued his incredible start scoring 10 of Maccabi's 20 points while adding five rebounds, 20:14. Igor Nesterenko added two from mid-range, but the Yellow & Blue had the last say as Othello Hunter slammed it down, 23:17.
Chris Jones laid in two and found Hunter in transition for easy points rallying Maccabi to an 8:2 run opening a 10 point advantage, 29:19. Karem Mashour and Siggers responded for the Reds with four quick points, but Hunter received great passes from Bender and Dori Sahar inside, collecting his 10th point of the half, 35:25.
Both teams were over the foul limit, exchanging points from the charity strike as the Yellow & Blue held on to the ten-point edge, 42:32. The half's highlight came from Sandy Cohen, who turned on the jets and slammed home an alley hoop lob from Jones. Amit Simhon reduced the lead to single digits, closing out the half with a three, 47:39.
Haifa started the second half stronger, playing organized offensive springs diminishing Maccabi's lead down to four, which led to a Giannis Sfairopoulos timeout, 52:48. Zizic stopped the Reds momentum by scoring four consecutive points, as Blayzer and Bender hit back to back triples, increasing the advantage back to double digits, 64:52.
The Yellow & Blue added on to the 10:0 run, Sahar dished another great pass to Hunter, who banged it home, and Jones added two more from mid-range, 68:52. Nesterenko concluded the quarter with a triple, 68:55.
Max Heidegger came off the bench for his first minutes in the Maccabi jersey. Bender denied Nesterenko, which led to Hunter's fastbreak points, who later added an improbable fadeaway jumper, beating the 24-second shot clock, 74:59.
Haifa reduced the advantage to single digits in the final minutes, but that was way too late. Maccabi advances to the Winner Cup Semi-Finals after an 83:74 win over Hapoel Haifa.