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THE ISRAEL Under-20 national team celebrates after beating Spain 92-84 last night in the European Championship final in Tel Aviv to capture its second straight title.(Photo by: FIBA EUROPE/ COURTESY)
Israel beats Spain to win the Under-20 basketball title
Avdija scored a game-high 23 points and dished out seven assists, while Yam Madar added 17 points and eight assists in the victory.
Israel captured the FIBA Under-20 European Championship as it defeated Spain 92-84 on Sunday night in Tel Aviv to hoist the trophy for the second year in a row.

In a tight contest that went down to the wire, Ariel Beit Halachmi’s blue-and-white squad sent the home crowd into delirium as the fans shouted “El, El Israel” to their hearts’ content as they serenaded the team led by NBA draft prospect Deni Avdija, who picked up the Most Valuable Player award.

Avdija scored a game-high 23 points and dished out seven assists, while Yam Madar added 17 points and eight assists in the victory.

Israel defeated France 81-70 on Saturday night to advance to the finals thanks to superb play by Avdija with 26 points, 11 rebounds, five steals and three blocked shots. Spain moved into the title game by easily ousting Germany 80-62 in their semifinal tilt on the strength of 18 points apiece from Carlos Alocen and Sergi Martinez.

On Sunday, with a sold-out crowd on hand and electricity following throughout the Shlomo Group Arena in north Tel Aviv, Israel won the tip and Madar immediately was fouled as he hit an off-balanced jumper to open the scoring.

The blue-and-white ran out to an 18-10 lead midway through the first quarter as Avdija and Amit Suss did most of the damage while Miguel Gonzalez countered for Spain.

The visitors didn’t capitulate as Arnau Parrado and Adams Sola helped tie the game at 24-24 after 10 minutes of action.

Spain maintained its momentum into the second quarter as Martinez and Alejandro Galan got into the action with a pair of buckets each to grab a 34-29 advantage with five minutes remaining in the half.

But when Israel needed Avdija most, he once again stepped up with a big triple to quell the Spanish charge as Raz Adam, Tomer Porat and Madar sent the blue-and-white into halftime all knotted up at 42-42.

Porat opened the third quarter with an acrobatic bucket from behind the basket to get Israel off and running as Adam and Avidja helped the hosts to a 53-50 lead midway through the frame.

But Ignacio Rosa and Josep Puerto, along with Alocen, immediately fought back to put Spain ahead 58-56 with three minutes to go in the quarter.

With the visitors pushing Israel, the dynamic duo of Avidja and Madar took control of the play while Eidan Alber hit a three-pointer from way downtown to send the blue-and-white into the fourth quarter with a 66-59 lead.

Avdija and Madar took flight to begin the final frame to give Israel a 75-63 lead halfway through the quarter and bust the game open. Adam and Alber continued the attack as Avdija put the finishing touches on the junior blue-and-white’s second straight championship.
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