ISRAELI PLAYERS celebrate on the bench in the closing minutes of the blue-and-white’s 80-66 victory over Croatia last night in the final of the 2018 FIBA Under-20 European Championship in Chemnitz, Germany, a result that gave Israel it’s first-ever title at the event..
(photo credit: FIBA EUROPE/ COURTESY)
In a historical moment of national pride, Israel’s Under-20 basketball team won its first European Championship at that stage on Sunday night with an 80-66 victory over Croatia in Chemnitz, Germany.
After three unsuccessful attempts in the finals for Israel, Ariel Beit-Halachmi’s team, which many did not expect much success from before the tournament, proved that the ceiling is sky high when it comes to the future of blue-and-white basketball, both at home and on the international level.
“You achieved an historic achievement and earned a trophy for the State of Israel. I am proud of you,” said Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev.
The superiority of the young and exciting team of Beit-Halachmi was expressed throughout the tournament. In the group stage, Israel avenged a loss to Greece in the 2017 final. In the quarterfinals, it notched a huge win over Spain, before dominating France in the semis.
As the championship progressed, expectations rose and on Sunday, the blue-and-white players simply did not intend to disappoint. With record ability, Israel took the game into their own hands from the start and never seemed afraid, even in the face of a brief comeback in the third quarter by the Croatians.
Michael Brisker led Israel with 19 points, while Yovel Zoosman contributed 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Miron Ruina chipped in with 14 points and 14 boards.
But once again, it was a dazzling defensive effort that propeled Israel against the Croats and earned the players the right to fly home with the trophy and mark their place in local basketball history.
Zoosman was named the MVP of the tournament, with averages of 14 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.
The 20-year-old Israeli forward, together with blue-and-white teammate Deni Avdija, was included in the championship’s first team.
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