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Israel, Serbia Take Vital First Step

15 July 2013
U20 MEN
15. Egor Koulechov (Israel)
Egor Koulechov (21 points) and Israel started the classification round on a high, beating Ukraine

Israel and Serbia were the teams that emerged victorious after the first day of action in Sportland U20 European Championship Group G and have taken an important first step towards avoiding the relegation battle.

On Monday, the Israelis scored 47 points in the second half to defeat Ukraine 84-72 while Serbia were dominant during long spells and registered a 91-66 triumph over the Czech Republic.

In the opening encounter of Group G, Ukraine used Vladyslav Koreniuk as their anchor point on offence and the center scored 18 first-half points to help his team take the initiative and grab a 42-37 advantage at the half-time interval.

Israel however closed down the direct passing lines to the Ukranian big man when play resumed, while Egor Koulechov with Tomer Ginat hit big shots from long range and Or Solomon dominated the boards to help the Israelis into the driver's seat, 48-47 with 4:04 to play in the third quarter.

Ukraine never managed to restore their lead and Solomon drilled a triple 1:27 before the final buzzer to give Israel an 11-point cushion and ensure there would not be any late drama.

Solomon collected a double-double of 23 points and 13 rebounds, Koulechov had 21 points and Ginat chipped in with 10 points; Koreniuk finished with 23 points and added five rebounds in a losing effort.

Serbia meanwhile shot 64 percent from the floor to outscore the Czechs 55-33 in the final two quarters of their Monday clash and cruise to victory with ease.

Luka Mitrovic (Serbia)
Luka Mitrovic had a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds for Serbia

The Balkan side started looking very focused and their excellent shot selection enabled them to lead by double digits already at the end of the first quarter, 26-14.

The Czechs started the second frame on a 9-0 run to get back into the contest and took their first and only lead in the game, 31-30, on a Martin Kríz triple when there was still 1:27 left to play in the period.

Serbia however regained a slim lead, 36-33 just before half-time and then used an amazing 27-4 run bridging the third and fourth quarters to put the outcome beyond any doubt.

Luka Mitrovic paved the way for Serbia with a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double, Nemanja Krstic added 19 points and Ivan Marinkovic had 17 points and four boards; Kriz had 16 points and six rebounds for the Czechs in defeat.

On Tuesday, Israel and Serbia face each other while Ukraine will do battle with the Czech Republic.

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