Israel’s national basketball team on Wednesday guaranteed its place in the final 16 of the 2015 EuroBasket tournament, beating the Polish team 75:73 in Montpellier, France. Israel has now defeated three of the five other teams in its group — Russia, Finland and Poland.
The game was tight throughout, but Gal Mekel managed to score 18 points for Israel, followed by D’or Fischer with 15 points and Omri Casspi with 14.
The team could have ensured its place in the next round two days ago, when it took on Bosnia-Herzegovina after having already beaten Russia and Finland. But Israel lost in the last minute, when its opponent scored in the final seconds of the game.
On Wednesday, Poland opened with a 3-point shot, but Israel quickly caught up. Later in the quarter the Poles were leading 15:10, but the period ended 24:22 to Poland. Israel gained the upper hand in the second quarter and maintained it till the end of the first half.
Israel ended the third period with a one-point advantage, with the score standing at 51:50.
Poland tried to seize the upper hand in the final period, with its players repeatedly fouling star player Mekel. But Mekel kept his cool and scored all six penalty points available.
Fischer helped keep the Israeli advantage, and at one stage Israel led by four points, 69:65. The game ended 75:73, ensuring the Israeli team’s place in the next round.