Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv's superiority in the Israeli League occurred again on Saturday evening with a convincing 98:75 home win over Bnei Herzliya. Giannis Sfairopoulos's squad retained their spot at the top of the table with their sixth straight victory (24.5 point margin in that span), improving their record to 12:2 on the season.
Six Yellow & Blue players scored in double digits as the MVP of the evening, Chris Jones completed an excellent double performance, scoring 14 points and dishing 10 assists. Ante Zizic led all Maccabi scorers with 19 points and 7 rebounds, Oz Blayzer contributed 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals, while John DiBartolomeo added 11 points and 5 assists.
The Israeli champion's next opponent, Ironi Nahariya, will come in on Monday to a different Menorah Mivtachim Arena. For the first time in nearly a year, the Yellow & Blue will play in front of 300 enthusiastic fans who will be authorized to enter the stands.
Maccabi started with Chris Jones, Yovel Zoosman, Oz Blayzer, Angelo Caloiaro, and Ante Zizic. Jared Cunningham, Abdul Gaddy, Isaiah Eisendorf, Coty Clarke, and Elijah Thomas opened for Herzliya.
The hosts passed the ball multiple times inside to Zizic, who scored six early points, as Zoosman added six of his own, hitting a corner triple. However, Herzliya's foreigners kept the score tight, 15:15. Dragan Bender recovered a T.J. Cline miss for a put-back slam as Cline closed out the quarter with back-to-back buckets giving the Yellow & Blue a 21:20 lead.
John DiBartolomeo and Tyler Dorsey got into things early in the second quarter, knocking down shots from behind the arc, which led to a 7:0 run, 34:31. Zoosman slammed down a big one-handed slam, keeping a 4 point Maccabi edge.
The Israeli champions locked down defensively in the last minute of the first half as on the other end of the court, Zoosman slammed it hard with one hand. With 5 seconds left, Blayzer stole the ball from the opposition and hit a buzzer-beating three, completing seven unanswered points to close out the second quarter, 45:36.
The Yellow & Blue extended the momentum and took it up a notch out of the break, expanding the margin up to 25 with an 18:2 stretch. Zoosman and Jones drilled shots from deep while the American guard dished multiple assists to Zizic in the paint, who totaled 8 points in 6:30 minutes, 63:38. Dorsey came off the bench with a layup and an assist to Bender, but Clarke and Gaddy, with a buzzer-beating floater, reduced the edge down to 19, 75:56.
Jones was in full command to open the fourth quarter scoring 7 consecutive points and dishing 2 assists for the hosts, 85:67. Giannis Sfairopoulos's squad stopped the visitors scoreless for the next 3:30 minutes, as Blayzer and Dorsey led an 11:0 stretch, 93:67. Eidan Alber joined the dominant performance and laid in two for Maccabi's last points of the night. In the end, Maccabi beat Herzliya 98:75.