Iscar Strauss Nahariya upped its FIBA Europe League record to a perfect 6-0 with a hard fought win over visiting RBC Verviers-Pepinster of Belgium. Arthur Lee's 27 points and crucial second half scoring were the difference between victory and defeat for the Israeli team.
The visitors were able to use their large height advantage to take an early five-point lead at the start of the first quarter. Pepinster continued to dominate the first quarter going on a 15-0 run and closed out the quarter with a 22-12 advantage.
Bosnian center Nedzad Sinanovic controlled the action under the defensive boards for Pepinster, altering shots and completely stifling Nahariya's half-court offense.
The tone of the game shifted radically after Sinanovic sat down to rest during the middle of the second quarter. Amit Ben David's entry into the game helped trigger Nahariya's fast breaks. Arthur Lee canned three key three-point baskets and Erez Marckovich exploited Sinanovic's absence by scoring inside, enabling Nahariya to draw even at the half (41-41).
The game remained tight during a low-scoring third quarter, and the visitors took a one-point advantage into the start of the final ten-minutes of play (55-54).
The opening three minutes of the final quarter were similar to a chess match, with the two teams in a stalemate at 59-59. The turning point of the game was when Pepinster's playmaker, Adrian Autry, fouled out. Immediately afterwards Nahariya went on an 11-2 run, and took a 70-61 lead which they never relinquished. In the end the home team outhustled the Belgians and went on to win 83-75.
Eddy Casteels, Head Coach of RBC Verviers-Pepinster
"I was pleased with my team's performance. They showed character and deserve respect. It was obvious that Nahariya, who are 5-0 in the league, wouldn't be easy."
Avi Ashkenazi, Head Coach of Iscar Strauss Nahariya
"The game was not as easy as anyone had thought. It was a tough game, but I am happy we won in the end."