Israel's Under-20 team received a hero's welcome when they returned home from the Czech Republic after claiming the silver medal at the European Championship.
For the second time in a row, Israel lost in the final. This time they fell to Slovenia, but their supporters praised the team's efforts.
Slovenia are the 2004 European Champions for U20 Men. In 2002 they suffered heartbreak, losing in desperately close fashion to Croatia, who made 2 free throws at the buzzer to win 74:72.
In 2004, it was Slovenia who closed the game by making not only several clutch shots, but 6 free throws in the last 30 seconds to close out Israel.
12 teams, 144 players but only 5 can make the All-Star team. At the Trans Eural Gas European Championship for U20 Men the five were Yotam Halperin (ISR), Ivan Koljevic (SCG), Konstantinos Vasileiadis (GRE) Linas Kleiza (LTU) and Erazem Lorbek (SLO).
It was clear that the MVP race was between Halperin and Lorbek and it was Lorbek who received the award thanks to his side's victory in the gold medal game.
At first glance, the final of the European Championship between Israel and Slovenia seems an unlikely pairing. Neither team were favoured to compete for a gold medal before the start of the championship and both overcame formidable quarter and semi-final opponents.
On the other hand Slovenia and Israel also possess the key ingredients needed to go all the way in a tournament.
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