by Yarone Arbel
A big thriller took place in the Classification Round as Israel edged Denmark 63-61 following a big clutch shot by Maxim Kikus at Sports Hall Topolica in Bar, Montenegro on Tuesday afternoon.
Israel was saved from an uncomfortable loss and got their first win in this round to take a 1-1 record while Denmark dropped to 0-2.
The following day the first round of games will be completed as Israel will take on Latvia and Denmark will try to upset Germany.
After a three point loss yesterday Israel wasn't too far from dropping another close game but found their big shot in a catch-and-shoot by Kikus with eight seconds on the game clock.
Egor Koulechov led Israel with 22 points and added eight rebounds, Kikus finished with 15 and Rafael Menco added 10.
Rasmus Larsen had another big performance with 21 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocks while David Knudsen added 13 with six assists.
Larsen scored seven early points as Israel struggled to connect and after seven minutes Denmark held a 4-12 lead with Larsen already topping Israel in points by himself.
Kikus hit his first basket to set the first quarter score on 8-14 but Israel continued to chase after their rivals.
Koulechov scored a three pointer on the fast break, and Yaniv Solomon hit another bucket to make it 20-19 and Israel were on top for the first time.
Yet Denmark replied with eight points in a row, and forced Israel to react quickly.
The answer was full court pressure, which resulted an 18-1 run as Koulechov dominated on every corner on the floor, and by the half time break Israel was up 38-28.
The Israeli guard added four more points, to keep Israel on top for five more minutes, but Knudsen hit another three pointer and tied the score at 45-45 and the game clock showed three minutes to play in the third.
Denmark took over and marched in the first minutes of the last quarter with the lead, but Kikus and Koulechov put the Israeli squad back on top, 58-57 inside the last four minutes.
The lead kept changing hands, until Larsen completed a big play on the post up to make it 60-61 in favor of his team with just 13 seconds to play.
Israel called a time out, and made two subs, and Naor Sharon who just came in attacked the rim and found Kikus free on the arc, and without any fear the ball went in.
Denmark tried to force overtime but Larsen was trapped in a triple-team and missed with the buzzer.