Israel defeated Great Britain 82-75 to move their FIBA 2019 World Cup Qualifying campaign and moved their record to 2-1 with a trip to Estonia on tap for game 4 on Sunday. Returning veterans Guy Pnini (18p 3/6 from 3), Raviv Limonad (15p) led the way while Rich Howell dropped 16 points in 27 minutes of play.
After an even first half of action in which Great Britain took a 1-point lead into the break, 44-43, Israel came storming back in the third quarter thanks to superb play by Avi Ben Chimol (9p/5a) and Rafi Menco (9p) to give the Blue & White a 3-point, 64-61 lead heading into the decisive frame. Guy Pnini drained a crucial 3-pointer while getting fouled good for 76-73 lead and never looked back as the Blue & White took home the 7 point win.
1) The return of the Guy Pnini and Raviv Limonad was a tremendous boost for Israel as the pair of veterans scored 33 points in the win. It was clear from tip-off that the two were going to be central players for Oded Katash in the game and that’s exactly what came to fruition. On the down side Pnini won’t be traveling with the team to Estonia due to his wife about to give birth as well as Tomer Ginat who looks to have dislocated his shoulder though the diagnosis is not final.
2) Avi Ben Chimol pulled the game out of the fire for Israel with a tremendous third quarter where he scored and assisted on what seemed to have been every bucket helping pull Israel out of a 10-point hole and end the frame up 64-61. It’s terrific to see Ben Chimol play such quality ball especially as Gal Mekel had an off night and didn’t find his way on to the scoresheet. Katash spoke about Ben Chimol following the game, “Avi is a special player and a team player and the players love to play with him. It’s fun to be around him on and off of the court. He’s mature and a great point guard.”
3) Rich Howell played fabulous ball and was a dominant offensive force for Israel in 27 minutes. The Hapoel Jerusalem center looked spry under his National Team and new club team Head Coach. “We played basketball the right way and when we were down by ten we didn’t hang our heads and played the right way and fought through it,” the big man said about the game that was. He also looked ahead to having Katash on his sidelines, “To be with him early is good and I’m sorry about what happened to Mody and I wish him the best. We jut got to keep playing in Jerusalem.” Perhaps the Reds can turn it around and to do that they’ll need both production out of Howell and game management by Katash on the sidelines.