Blue-and-white back in Under-20 semis

All-around attack helps Israel avenge pre-tournament loss to Lithuania, sets up duel with France

By JOSHUA HALICKMAN
July 18, 2019 23:47
2 minute read.
Blue-and-white back in Under-20 semis

THE ISRAEL Under-20 national team played its best game of the European Championship last night in Tel Aviv, beating Lithuania 94-78 in the quarterfinals. (photo credit: DOV HALICKMAN PHOTOGRAPHY/COURTESY)

The Under-20 Israel national basketball team defeated Lithuania 94-78 in the FIBA European Championship  quarterfinals in Tel Aviv on Thursday night and advanced to Saturday’s second semifinal against France.

After a back-and-forth first half, the blue-and-white once again used a big third quarter to pull away for good. Deni Avdija dominated the game for Israel with 16 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals, Raz Adam scored 17 points and Eidan Alber checked in with 16 points in the win.

Lucas Uleckas led Lithuania with 23 points in the loss.

The three other semifinalists were determined earlier in the day. France eased by Croatia 71-63 thanks to strong play by Dylan Affo Mama (17 points) and Ludovic Beyhurst (14 points) as they’ll play Israel in the late Saturday semifinal.

Germany disposed of upstart Great Britain 81-56 as the British couldn’t replicate their shocking victory over Serbia in the round-of-16. Phillipp Herkenhoff led the way for Germany with 22 points and eight rebounds while Jonas Mattisseck added 16 points in the dominant win.

The German squad will take on Spain, which squeaked by Turkey 70-69 after Muhayim Mustafa missed the back end of a pair of free throws with one second left on the game clock. Sergi Martinez clocked in with 21 points and nine rebounds for Spain while Josep Busquets chipped in with 19 points in the hard-earned win.

In the late game, Israel raced out to a 14-4 lead midway through the first quarter on the strength of Avdija’s and Amit Suss’s fine play, but Lithuania charged back thanks to nine points from Uleckas to cut the lead to 20-18 after 10 minutes of action.

The blue-and-white received inspired play by Alber, who scored 14 points over the first half of the second frame to put Israel up 47-31, but Lithuania didn’t lay down and finished the quarter off with a 13-6 run to close the gap to 53-44 at halftime.

Lithuania came out on fire in the second half and went on a quick 7-0 run as Uleckas once again played the part of catalyst, but Adam drilled home a pair of triples to give Israel a 10-point advantage (63-53) midway through the third quarter.

Ariel Beit Halachmi’s squad continued to hit its shots at will to give Israel a 76-61 lead after 30 minutes of play.

The blue-and-white then held Lithuania in check throughout the final 10 minutes as it wrapped up a tidy 16-point triumph to earn a date with France in its quest to repeat as champion after last year’s surprising victory.


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