Still A Win Away
Orli Klinger ,09/10/2008
Israel was less than two minutes away from clinching the #1 spot and a 2009 EuroBasket berth with a 74 – 65 lead. A basket off an offensive rebound and two questionable calls changed the momentum and got the Ukraine back in the game, and they were able to force overtime. With two key players out and soft defense, Israel couldn't recover in the overtime and lost 85 – 90. Israel now must beat Great Britain on Saturday to complete the job and advance.

Ukraine 90 – Israel 85 (OT)
The Ukraine came out knowing a loss would end their EuroBasket dreams, and wanted to close out the campaign with a home victory. In the first half the game didn’t feature the type of do-or-die intensity, and Israel was able to take the halftime lead despite a five minute scoring drought, 37 – 34. Israel still led after three, 56 – 52, and opened a 74 – 65 lead with 1:40 to go. Israel lost the battle on the boards 27 - 48 tonight and is guilty of premature celebrating but the Ukraine didn’t give up. They went strong into the paint and each time managed to either score, get the offensive rebound or get to the line. It was enough to force overtime, and the momentum carried them to the win.

"I think we lost concentration in the last 1:30 of regulation and that's too bad, we played the clock and weren't focused and we paid for it eventually", said coach Eli Rabi after the game. "It was a very brutal call by the official, both Liad's flagrant foul and Shay's foul, but there's not much we can say about that", he referred to the two 5th fouls that were called with under two minutes to go, and left Israel without the services of Liad Suez Karni who was excellent tonight, and without Shay Doron who combined for 37 points tonight. "Still I was proud of the girls, they played very well in a very difficult game, but we have to move on". Israel still needs one more win to advance, and can get it at home on Saturday night against Great Britain.

Israel led 74 – 65 after points by Doron, Cohen and Suez, with 1:45 to go. The locals scored off a put back and the momentum switched sides as Suez Karni's reach in was called for her 5th foul on a very questionable flagrant foul, and Shay Doron's 5th quickly followed and was also very debatable. With them both out the Ukraine got back with in 71 – 74 with 45 seconds to go. Israel couldn't create a shot on the other end and also allowed an easy basket. Cohen was sent to the line with nine seconds to go, she only made the second, and Gorbunova drove hard to send the game to overtime, 75 – 75.

Cohen from the line and Selwyn from outside put Israel up 80 – 77 with 3:30 to go, but Israel allowed way too many offensive rebounds and couldn’t get stops. Without two key starters, and along with the fact the bench contributed just one basket tonight, the offense was also unable to produce and the local momentum continued. Gorbunova got to the line again and Biryuk hit a huge three to make it 88 – 82 with 44 seconds left. Cohen sliced the lead in half and Israel forced a turnover with half a minute to play, but the offense was confused and Fleischer ended up taking a jumper instead of kicking out for a three, and that was it.

Israel now has to beat Great Britain, who lost at home tonight to Germany 72 - 74. Israel hoped for any score other than a German win by 1 or 2, but that didn't help much. Great Britain now has to beat Israel and hope Germany lose to Lithuania in order to avoid finishing last. In their previous meeting, Israel won 100 - 80 on the road.

In the first half Israel wasn’t physical enough on defense but still maintained a lead with some nice plays like an Abramzon three, a crazy Suez three and excellent penetrations by Selwyn, 23 – 15 after she found Suez for a three point play. In the final minute and a half a few subs slowed Israel down a little and the locals closed out with a run to get within 20 – 23.

The local run continued in the 2nd quarter and ballooned to 12 – 0. Israel needed five minutes to produce a point but the Ukraine didn’t take advantage enough, 27 – 23. Abramzon finally scored and she had six in the quarter, and Selwyn brought a lot of energy on both ends and helped put Israel up 35 – 32 with two minutes to go in the half. Suez Karni beat the buzzer to set the halftime score at 37 – 34.

Israel started out well in the 3rd to go up 51 – 43 in five minutes. The Ukraine kept giving Israel a very hard time on the offensive glass, but Israel was still able to hold on to the lead as Cohen hit another three, 56 – 52. It was, however, not enough.

For Israel:
Liad Suez Karni 20 pts
Liron Cohen 19 pts
Shay Doron 17 pts
Laine Selwyn 16 pts
Katia Abramzon 11 pts
Merav Dori 2 pts

Latest stories

©All rights reserved