Marc-Antoine Pellin (FRA)
The first quarter-final saw a match-up between Israel and France. The Israelis came from the top of Group B, following a big push after 2 wins in a row. France, however, came from the opposite end after 2 losses in a row and the 4th place in Group A.
Despite the 23 point winning margin for France, Israel was strong in the game in the first half and even had a small 29-33 lead before France finished strong with an 11-1 run right before the half-time buzzer. In the second half it was already a one-sided game as France only allowed Israel to score 22 points, dominated the boards (38-23) and marched to the Semi-Finals.
France opened the game with a 3 pointer, but Israel replied with the same coin. France took off to a 12-7 lead after 4 quick points from Johan Petro and maintained the lead until the teams went to the first time out with 2:23 to go, with France up 16-11. In the last minute of the quarter, France was able to take off for a 9 point lead, 22-13, but Ofir Prahi of Israel nailed a 3 pointer with the buzzer to set the score at 22-16.
Israel continued to push forward. Cisse held France up by 4, 27-23, after 2 minutes in the 2nd, but Israel made a great 0-8 run with 6 points from Yoni Nir and 2 from Niv Berkowitz, which forced the French coach to call for a timeout. Israel then climbed to a 29-33 lead after a big dunk by Ido Cohen, but France answered with 3 accurate shots from downtown by Souarata Cisse and Etienne Plateau, on an 11-1 run, which put their team up by 6 after 20 minutes, 40-34.
France climbed to a 9 point lead, 46-37 early in the 3rd, while Israel managed to score only 3 points in first 4:30 minutes of the 2nd half. Micheal Mokongo and Plateau on the outside and Petro on the inside continued to run over the Israelis and slowly built an 18 point wall between the teams, 62-44 with 1:09 to go in the 3rd. Berkowitz broke the Israeli drought but the quarter still finished with an 18 point difference, 64-46.
France’s Thibaut Blanque hit a 3 pointer in the 33rd minute to put France above the 20 point margin, 71-50, and if Israel still had any dreams of a comeback, it was time to wake up. France however, wasn't going to allow Israel's big heart to pound its way back.