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Israel defeated Montenegro 88-69 on Wednesday night in the round-of-16 elimination at the FIBA Under-20 European Championship in Tel Aviv. After a competitive first half, the blue-and-white broke the game open with a 16-0 run to begin the second half and never looked back.
Yam Madar led the way for Israeli with 18 points, Noam Avivi added 17 points and Yair Kravits scored 15 points to go along with six rebounds and seven assists.
Israel will now face Lithuania in a quarterfinal matchup on Thursday night at in Tel Aviv. Lithuania easily disposed of Latvia 114-75 in the round-of-16 and also dropped Israel last week in a warm-up tournament before the competition officially got under way.
On Wednesday, it took a few minutes for Israel to get going, but once it did Madar once again was the spark plug the blue-and-white needed as the Hapoel Tel Aviv guard along with Kravits from Hapoel Beersheba gave the hosts a 19-15 lead after 10 minutes.
Eidan Alber and Avivi paced Ariel Beit Halachmi’s squad to a 30-25 lead midway through the second frame, but Montenegro’s Marko Simonovic and Andrija Slavkovic battled hard to keep the contest close.
However, Raz Adam and Yotam Hanochi made sure that Israel went into halftime ahead 40-34.
Israel began the third quarter with a triple by Madar and went on a 16-0 run over the first half of the frame with the help of Kravits and Avivi to take a 56-34 lead.
Igor Drobnjak attempted to dent the blue-and-white advantage, but Deni Avdija (12 points), Madar and Avivi sent Beit Halachmi’s crew into the fourth with a 66-49 lead.
The final frame featured garbage time galore as Beit Halachmi cleared the bench and Israel wrapped up the 19-point victory.
“This wasn’t just a big game for me,” said Kravits, “but for the whole team. When we play defense and run on offense this is the result.
We really love the amazing Israeli fans who have supported us throughout the tournament so far.”
Madar was already looking ahead to the quarterfinal date with Lithuania.
“We’ll have to sit down and watch video and see what we can improve on from the last time we played Lithuania.”
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