Slovenia Ends Israel Championship Hopes

16 July 2006

Israel's hopes of advancing to the quarter-final round of the Ostchem U20 European Championship Men were struck a fatal blow by Slovenia on Sunday.

Slovenia needed to win by a minimum of 3 points to ensure top place in Group A, while a victory for Israel or loss by 2 points or less would have been enough to advance.

Slovenia's win resulted in a 3-way tie with Italy and Israel in the group, and Israel were the team to lose out by virtue of goal difference.

In a scrappy contest, characterised by some tenacious defense from Israel, the game was not decided until the final seconds.

Slovenia took a 5-point lead into the final period which proved to be a battle all the way.

Israel closed to 2 points, 60-58, midway through the quarter, but a 5-0 run from Slovenia saw them regain control.

Israel were forced to foul constantly in the final minute in order to stop the clock, and Slovenia displayed ice-cold nerves from the free throw line, shooting 6/8 to preserve the advantage.

Two 3-pointers from Nitzan Hanochi inside the last 10 seconds gave Israel a tiny glimmer of hope, but time eventually ran out on their efforts.

Slovenia's Emir Preldzic has been one of the most talked-about prospects so far in Izmir, and he had a strong game with 14 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocked shots. Center Gasper Vidmar added 22 points and 10 rebounds.

Jonatan Nir led Israel with 20 points and 10 rebounds. 

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