1) The Israel Under-20 Basketball Team defeated Spain 98-75 in their European Championship quarterfinal game to advance to the semifinals where they will play France on Saturday night at 7pm Israel time. The Blue & White were dominant throughout as Yovel Zoosman led the side in scoring with 25 points and added 5 assists in the win while Michael Brisker dropped 22 points as well. Gil Beni recorded a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds as Michael Ruina added 16 points for Israel. In a game that was never in doubt, Ariel Beit Halachmi’s squad shot 49% from the field, going 12/29 from 3 point land and grabbing 14 offensive rebounds. Spain’s Joel Parra tried in vain to keep his team close as he scored 24 points and pulled down 14 boards but it wasn’t enough as the Blue & White moved on in the Germany,
Zoosman spoke about the victory following the game: “It’s amazing. We came in prepared and our charcater throughout the tournament has been to battle and not give up for a second. We played as a team and that’s what was most important.”
2) Maccabi Tel Aviv advanced to Europa League second round qualifying thanks to a 1:0 home win (2:1 aggregate) over Ferencváros and will now face Serbian side Radnicki Nis. Eliran Atar’s first half goal made all the difference as over 8,000 Yellow & Blue fans who came to support the team at the Netanya Stadium went home happy. Atar took a late first half pass by Roslan Bersky, turned and fired a right footed bullet behind the Hungarian side’s keeper for the lone goal of the match.
Head Coach Vladimir Ivic, “It was a tough game. We advanced to the second round and that was the goal before the two games. Now we have to continue. That was the first round, now it’s on to the next round.”
Midfielder Avi Rikan also commented about the match, “The most important thing was to advance and that’s what we did this match. Now we have to get ready for a very tough match next week. We haven’t had this type of difficult draw over the past few seasons in Europe, but it’s good we’re playing tough opponents as we will get into game shape faster.”
3) After a 0:0 draw in the 1st leg at Chikhura in Georgia, Beitar Jerusalem looked to advance at home to the 2nd leg of Europa League second round qualifying. Beitar had an amazing chance in the 9’ from a corner opportunity as Michael Seroshtan just headed the ball over the bar. In the 24’ Beitar would have another great opportunity as Jakub Sylvester also headed the ball just over the goal from a beautiful cross by Lior Einbrom. Goalkeeper Itamar Nitzan made a big diving save in the 37’ as the match remained goalless at the break.
Beitar continued to pressure the visitor’s and had yet another amazing chance to score in the 48’ as the Chikhura keeper was off his line but Beitar couldn’t convert. In the 62’ Beitar finally cracked the score board when captain Idan Vered buried a beautiful shot from right outside of the box giving the host’s a1:0 lead. However, Chikura drew even at 1:1 thanks to a marvelous strike in the 73’ as Levan Kakubuva drew his side even but ahead on aggregate due to the away goal. The Georgians doubled their output when Giorgi Gabedava scored from the penalty spot in the 82’ giving Chikhura a 2:1 lead at the win to knock Beitar out of Europe.
The Yellow & Black Head Coach Guy Luzon commented, “We played really hard, but we were just unfortunate that we were unable to convert.”
-By Doug Cahn
4) Sport 5 reported earlier today that TJ Leaf of the Indiana Pacers has been recognized as a full Israeli citizen due to being born in the country. His father Brad Leaf spent many seasons in the country as a player during the 1980s and 90s for Galil and Maccabi Tel Aviv. Should TJ Leaf play for Israel in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers he would not be counted as a naturalized citizen and take us the one spot allocated for that need as per FIBA rules.
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