Israel defeated Montenegro 88-69 in their elimination game Round of 16 contest at the Under-20 European Championship. After a competitive first half, the blue-and-white broke the game open with a 16-0 run to begin the second half and never looked back. Yam Madar led the way with 18 points, Noam Avivi added 17 points and Yair Kravits scored 15 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 7 assists.
Israel will now face Lithuania in a quarterfinal matchup on Thursday night at 8:30pm in Tel Aviv. Lithuania easily disposed of Latvia 114-75 in the Round of 16 and also dropped Israel last week in a warmup tournament before the competition officially got underway.
It took a few minutes for Israel to get going, but once they did Yam Madar once again was the spark plug the blue-and-white needed as the Hapoel Tel Aviv guard and Yair Kravits from Beer Sheva gave the hosts a 19-15 lead after ten minutes. Eidan Alber and Noam Avivi paced Ariel Beit Halachmi’s squad to a 30-25 lead midway through the second frame but Marko Simonovic and Andrija Slavkovic battled hard to keep the contest close. However, Raz Adam and Yotam Hanochi made sure that Israel went into halftime ahead 40-34.
Israel began the third quarter with a triple by Madar and went on a 16-0 run over the first half of the frame with the help of Kravits and Avivi to take a 56-34 lead. Igor Drobnjak attempted to dent the blue-and-white advantage but Deni Avdija, Madar and Avivi sent Beit Halachmi’s crew into the 4th quarter with a 66-49 lead. The final frame featured garbage time galore as Beit Halachmi cleared the bench as Israel wrapped up a 88-69 victory.
1) Israel blew away Montenegro going on a 16-0 run after halftime and never looked back. The Blue & White just ransacked their opponents and absolutely crushed them as they cruised into the quarterfinals. “Ariel gave us a talk at the half,” Avdija said following the game. “That helped us come out good for the second half.” Noam Avivi also spoke about the big run that put the game away, “We came out on fire from the half. We need to play like that the whole game.”
2) Just as Avivi said, Israel MUST play the whole game as they did the first five minutes of the third quarter especially against their quarterfinal rival, Lithuania to whom they have already lost to last week in a warmup tourney. Beit Halachmi sent out a warning about Lithuania in his post game comments, “Whoever saw them today and at the friendly game they are strong. But we are good to and we will come prepared.” Yam Madar also talked about what Israel needs to do in order to beat their opponents on Thursday, “We’ll have to sit down and watch video and see what we can improve on from the last time we played Lithuania.”
3) Ariel Beit Halachmi was certainly content that his players finished off the game quickly after halftime, but he’s still concerned about how the team in playing, “I’m not happy with what we are doing in some of the minutes. We made mistakes to let them come back after we broke away.” In fact, Deni Avdija really wasn’t the central point in the game as others stepped up as the coach mentioned, “I’m happy that in a game that our stars were not at their peak we still got the win.” One of the players who had another superb game was the captain Yair Kravits, “This wasn’t a big game for me, but for the whole team. When we play defense and run on offense this is the result.” But as Avdija said, “We played together as a team. Whoever stepped on the court played well. We need to keep playing together.“ Bottom line it’s a team effort and not one or two individuals which has been what Coach Halchami has been saying for two weeks now.
They said it…
Yair Kravits – “We really love the amazing fans who have supported us throughout the tournament so far.”
Deni Avdija – “Whatever happened before against Lithuania was in the past and we will come into the quarters focused to win.”