Croatia Too Much For Israel

21 August 2008

Croatia saw success in their key match against Israel with a 78-60 win in Group F of the Qualifying Round of the Termosteps U16 European Championship Men.

The win earns Croatia a 2-3 record and the fourth place in the group, enough to qualify to the 5-8 games.

Israel hoped to snatch the fourth spot from Croatia but will settle for a 1-4 record and the fifth place, that sends them to the 9-12 classification games.

Stefan Zadravec led Croatia with 23 points, Marino Kucan scored 14, Boris Barac had 12 with eight rebounds while Roko Rogic added ten.

Tamir Simchony and Bar Timor led Israel with 14 points each.

After a close first half Croatia took over the game late in the third quarter.

Timor stepped up with big plays to make it just a four point game early in the last quarter, but Croatia answered with a run that decided the game.

"When we arrived here many people back home said it was a bad generation and that we won't have big success here," shared Damir Rajnovic, the bench boss of Croatia.

"Our main goal was to secure the spot in Division A, so this is a very important game for us.

"To play for the fifth spot is a good thing for my team, and this is why we're all very excited now."

Israel connected only 25% of their long range shots and committed no less than 20 turnovers, while Croatia enjoyed nine hits from long range and an big 50-33 advantage under the rims.

Croatia took a 17-10 lead deep in the first quarter, but Bar Reuven hit twice from long range to keep Israel close.

Israel took a four point lead after a big play by Guy Lavie and moves by Reuven, but Marko Ramljak and Barac moved the lead back to the Croatian side.

No team scored in the last minute before the half as the teams separated tied at 33-33.

Rogic scored five in a row and Kucan added from the line to make it a 12 point game before Timor beat the buzzer from half court and made it just 52-43 before the fourth quarter.

Timor added four points in a row followed by a steal and two assists to make it just 54-50 but Kucan hit from the corner and Zadravec from the line to make it a double-digit game again.

"It wasn't an easy game on the psychological sense. We lost some games and against France scored only two points in the last quarter, so there was a lot of tension on our bench,but I'm happy we managed to recover from Israel's comeback and showed our mental strength."

Israel hoped to make it back to the game from long range, but every miss just allowed Croatia to extend the lead until reaching a maximum of 21.

Croatia will face Spain in two days while Israel will try to keep the ninth spot in reach against Ukraine.

Follow Us On Twitter

Like Us On Facebook