Great Britain Deny Israel In Overtime

04 September 2013

EUROBASKET 2013

Turning Point: Trailing by two with 15.8 seconds left, Israel came up the court but Afik Nissim's careless turnover, putting the ball in the hands of Drew Sullivan, sealed their fate.

Stats Don't Lie: There would have been no overtime, and no British victory, if Israel had made their free throws. They missed four in the final minute of regulation, and shot just 17-of-32 (53.1%) from the line, compared with Britain's 26-of-35 (74.3%).

Game Hero: Kyle Johnson had 10 points in the first quarter as Britain took an early lead, but saved the best until last, scoring five in the 8-0 spurt with which Joe Prunty's men finished the game to take the win.

15. Kyle Johnson (Great Britain)
Kyle Johnson was the hero for Great Britain, scoring 10 points in the opening frame alone

Great Britain have begun EuroBasket 2013 with a confidence-boosting win, taking down Israel 75-71 in overtime.

The Brits came from nine down in the fourth quarter to force the extra period and then rallied once more after falling behind late in overtime, scoring the final eight points of the game to take the win.

With his team down 71-67, Kyle Johnson hit his third three-pointer of the game and then Ogo Adegboye tied it from the line with 1:15 to go.

After Johnson's lay-up gave Great Britain their first lead of overtime with 15.8 seconds left, Israel came up the court but Afik Nissim - their most impressive player in the game with a team-high 17 points - turned it over at the crucial moment as a grateful Drew Sullivan found himself holding the ball.

"I went to knock the ball away and hoped the referee wouldn't call a foul," Sullivan said. "Once I got it, I really wanted to pass the ball up and go for the kill but cooler heads prevailed and I waited for the foul."

After that foul came, Sullivan iced the cake with two more free throws for a four-point win.

Great Britain had led for almost the entire first half but Israel dominated the second half, leading 66-57 with 3:10 remaining.

But the British kept battling, and when Yaniv Green was called for an offensive foul with Israel leading 66-61, the momentum shifted once again and Britain used it to force overtime - sealed when Yogev Ohayon missed a jump-shot at the buzzer.

"I'm really proud of the way the guys battled," said Great Britain's coach Joe Prunty, taking charge of his first competitive game. "Our players stayed composed under difficult circumstances. Of course our assists could be higher and our turnovers lower but we shared the ball better, attacked better, and that growth is what you want to see."

Israel were left to reflect on poor free-throw shooting which cost them what perhaps should have been an opening win.

They made only 17-of-32 (53.1%) from the line, compared with Britain's 26-of-35 (74.3%), and made just 1-of-10 in the final moments of the fourth quarter, handing their opponents the chance to tie it.

"We had a good lead and then we came to a situation where we were missing free throws and that was the game," said coach Arik Shevik. "We made one-from-10 at the end of the game and that is really unacceptable at this level."

Great Britain had jumped into an 11-3 lead as Johnson came out firing, scoring 10 of his 22 points in the first quarter alone.

Israel clawed their way back but could not draw level until early in the third period and then looked to be in complete control as they finished the third period on an 8-0 run.

For a young British squad radically changed from last year's Olympic team, the win is a huge boost to their chances of reaching the Second Round, but Prunty is keen that nobody gets ahead of themselves just yet.

"It's a great win, but we move on to the next one now," he said. "You have to enjoy them, but we will enjoy this for the rest of this press conference and then look forward."

 


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