under 20s 88.
(photo credit: )
The men's junior national basketball team was eliminated from the Under-20 European Championships in Izmir, Turkey, on Sunday after a 73-68 loss to Slovenia in the third and final game in Group B.
Despite finishing with a 2-1 record, Israel finished third behind Italy and Slovenia, which also had the same marks, but had a better point-differential - the first tiebreaker.
The difference in the tiebreaker would prove to be Israel's game against Hungary on Saturday. While the Slovenians walloped the Hungarians by 32 on Friday and the Italians scored a 74-41 thrashing on Sunday night, Israel trailed by as many as 17 in the second half before taking a narrow 72-68 win. That meant that Israel finished with a +1, while Slovenia was +33 and Italy +35.
Coach Yaacov Gino's squad will remain in Turkey for the consolation games, starting with a Group H contest against Germany on Tuesday. On Wednesday, it meets Bulgaria and the next day, Latvia.
Against Slovenia, a big game from center Yoni Nir (20 points, 10 rebounds) wasn't enough as star guard Yogev Ohayon struggled with his shot (4-for-14) and the bigger Slovenians won the battle on the boards 47-33. Israel didn't do itself any favors from the line either, making a dismal 55 percent (11-of-20).
Slovenia rode Gasper Vidmar's hot hand during an 11-2 run at the end of the first half to give it a 41-29 halftime lead.
Israel came back in the fourth, closing the gap to 60-58 at the midway point on Elishay Kadir's jumper, but Slovenia scored the next five points while holding Israel scoreless for the next two-and-a-half minutes to wrap up the game.
Nitzan Hanochi added 19 points, Kadir 14 and Ohayon 11 for Israel.
Vidmar led all scorers with 22.