|Yaniv Solomon was part of the much improved Israeli rebounding machine as he coralled 5 in a mere 9 minutes|
by Yarone Arbel
Fresh news come out of Group D where Israel beat Turkey 61-58 in the U16 European Championship at Sports Hall Topolica in Bar, Montenegro on a Saturday afternoon.
This is the first win of Israel after two big defeats, that helps them improve to 1-2 and stay in the race for the Qualifying Round while Turkey dropped to 1-2 after their second loss in a row and will wait for the result of the final game in the group between Russia and Montenegro to know their future.
In case the local team will win Turkey will advance together with Russia and the winners, while in case Russia spring an upset, the smiling faces will be in the Israeli camp as Turkey will go to the Classification Round.
Naor Sharon hit 13 points, added seven assists and grabbed six rebounds but will take from this game mostly a great three pointer down the stretch that cut a tied score. Egor Koulechov had 13 points while Rafael Menco added 12.
Tayfun Erülkü scored 24 points for Turkey and Talat Altunbey added 12.
"We didn't start the tournament well, but today we fixed some of the impression with this win that was a result of great effort and sacrifice by our players," commented the winning coach Rubi Balinko.
"Even if we do eventually end up in the Classification Round I can go there with a proud feeling after such great win even if we didn't play the most beautiful game in the world.
"The fact we won in the rebound today shows the big difference from the first two days.
"This is the first game we grabbed more rebounds and also the first game we won."
Coach Balinko refers to the 47-35 advantage of his team under the boards against a much taller team.
In the first two days Israel was outrebounded heavily and suffered big losses, and today came the welcomed change.
Turkey held the lead for most of the minutes, and was up by as much as 14 points already in the third quarter, but a big come back by Israel led by Sharon and Koulechov made the difference in the closing minutes.
In the first quarter both sides struggled to score in a very slow paced game that saw Turkey hold a minimum 5-6 difference after 10 minutes of basketball.
Erülkü stepped up and even when his shots didn't slide in, his activity kept Turkey more alert, enough to match into the locker room with an 18-22 advantage.
The athletic Turkish guard continued to carry his team and a shot around the basket sank in to register the biggest lead of the game, 40-26 after 28 minutes, but Israel was still not giving up.
Some balls jumped on the rim twice or more before falling in and Sharon with a drive followed by a big assist made it just 47-45 inside the last seven minutes.
The chase continued until Koulechov hit a big jumper from the perimeter to make it 51-51 but Turkey scored five in a row, and stayed on top, yet not for long.
Another three pointer by Koulechov put Israel on top for the first time since the opening quarter, before Erülkü scored one from the line to tie the game.
Sharon then stepped up with his big hit right before the shot clock expired and with 48 seconds to go Israel held a 60-57 margin.
Zafer Alp drove but missed yet Israel turned the ball over and give Turkey one last chance.
Once again Alp was in charge but he was sent to the line and hit just the first shot, allowing Israel to regain control of the ball and secure their debut win in Bar.