|Nikola Ivanovic was red hot for the hosts that showed up in good numbers to cheer their team to the first win in the tournament|
In front of nearly 2,000 local fans Montenegro started their trip in the U16 European Championship with an 81-71 win over Israel in the closing game of Group D at the Sports Hall Topolica in Bar, Montenegro on Thursday night.
Montenegro and Turkey are on top of the standings with a 1-0 record while Israel and Russia share the 0-1 balance at the bottom side of the group.
Tomorrow the two winners will go head to head with desire to remain unbeaten while Israel and Russia will fight to avoid the uncomfortable 0-2 record.
Nikola Ivanovic topped the scoring list of the winners with 25 points in addition to six assists and five steals and right behind him was Milos Pajovic who had 14 points and 11 boards.
Egor Koulechov was the best scorer of Israel with 19 points and also the best rebounder with six, and was joined by Noam Levy with 16 points and Rafael Menco with 15.
The hosts took a 20 point lead already in the first half, and despite Israel cutting on the margin and being just eight points behind, the local win was never in danger.
Montenegro endured a bad shooting day with just two makes out of 10 attempts from the arc, but used their size to dominated the boards where they reached a 48-24 advantage.
Levy was the fire powder in Israel's early 8-9 lead, but it seemed at this score bothered the locals too much, and they replied with an 11-0 run to make it a double-digit lead in less than eight minutes since tip off.
Koulechov started Israel's run back in the game, but once again the punishment was another 11-0 dash by Montenegro, this time good enough for a 32-18 gap.
Yet another run right before the first half finish line set the gap on 42-22 when the teams entered their locker rooms, but Israel didn't raise their hands yet.
Levy and Menco attacked the rim and cut on the gap step by step, enough to be down 49-36 after 25 minutes.
Ivanovic showed his great talent with the ball and carried his team to a quick recovery, but Koulechov was on fire and finished two fast-breaks with big dunks and soon it was just 65-56 with 7:30 to play.
Despite the bad momentum Ivanovic stepped up and good accuracy from the charity stripe kept the locals far ahead.
Koulechov scored another from the arc to cut more points off the gap and set the score on 77-69 still with more than a minute to play, but that's the closest Israel got.