Israel forward Guy Pnini (left) had 15 points in last night’s 82-80 win over Dennis Schroder and Germany in EuroBasket action at Yad Eliyahu Arena..
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Israel came back from 16 points down in the fourth quarter to kickstart its EuroBasket campaign on Sunday night, edging Germany 82-80 at Yad Eliyahu Arena in Tel Aviv.
After being outplayed in its first two games in Group B against Italy and Lithuania, Israel seemed to be heading to a third straight defeat.
Once more it allowed its opponent to surge ahead in the third quarter, with Germany opening a record 75-59 margin one minute into the final frame. But Israel held the Germans to just five points in the remainder of the contest, ending the night with a 23-5 run.
Israel’s victory means it still has its fate in its own hands ahead of its final two group games. Victories over Georgia on Tuesday and Ukraine on Wednesday will send the blue-andwhite to the last 16 in Istanbul, Turkey.
Richard Howell was sensational for Israel, finishing with 23 points, nine rebounds and seven steals. Omri Casspi added 20 points and nine boards, with Guy Pnini contributing 15 points.
“We all came together as a group and we feel awesome,” said Howell. “We never put our head down and we just kept playing and it worked.”
Dennis Schroder scored 20 points for Germany, which fell to 2-1.
Israel took a five-point gap (23-18) into the second quarter and soon opened a double-digit margin (33-23).
Guy Pnin’s three-pointer lifted the fans at Yad Eliyahu, but the blue-andwhite couldn’t build on the momentum.
The hosts were held to five points in the next five minutes, with Isaiah Hartenstein’s triple completing Germany’s comeback with just over two minutes to play (39-38).
The second half began with the score tied at 43-43, but yet again Israel looked lost coming out of the dressing room. Johannes Voigtmann’s thunderous dunk capped a 10-2 Germany run to begin the second half and Israel found itself down by 10 points (58-48) midway through the third quarter.
Even when Schroder had to go to the bench after he picked up his third foul and then a technical for complaining, Germany extended its cushion, leading by as many as 13 points (64-51) with three minutes to play in the third.
Germany was ahead by 12 points (69-57) entering the final 10 minutes and Robin Benzing’s triple made it a 16-point game (75-59). The hosts never gave up the chase though, with a few lax minutes by the Germans handing Israel a lifeline. Casspi’s putback dunk brought Israel within a single point (77-76) with 2:52 minutes to play, setting up a tense finish.
Howell’s lay-up capped the blueand- white’s comeback (78-77), giving Israel its first lead since the second period.
The score was tied (78-78) ahead of the final minute, but after Schroder put Germany back in front, Pnini hit a clutch three with 28.5 seconds remaining and Germany missed a triple at the buzzer to the relief of Israel fans.
Earlier Sunday, Ukraine picked up its first win in Tel Aviv, defeating Georgia 88-81 to move both teams to 1-2. Apart from 15 seconds late in the first period, Ukraine led from start to finish. Artem Pustovyi led four Ukraine players in double figures with 19 points and seven rebounds. Zaza Pachulia and Giorgi Shermadini had 17 points each for Georgia, which has lost to Germany and Ukraine after stunning Lithuania in its opener.
Lithuania has won two straight since that defeat, beating Italy 78-73 on Sunday to join it at 2-1. Adas Juskevicius had 20 points for Lithuania, which pulled ahead in the second quarter and never looked back. Luigi Datome scored 24 points for Italy.