With a chance to make history on the line, Elitzur Ramle needed its top scorers to break through in order to have a chance Thursday night - and break through they did.
The Israeli club had four players in double figures, enabling the team to defeat French club Arras in the EuroCup final last night 61-53 in France. With the victory, Elitzur Ramle becomes the first Israeli team in the history of women's basketball to capture a European trophy.
Ramle seemed to face an uphill battle against an Arras team, which was spurred on by a rowdy home crowd. But Adan Inbar's team was calm and collected throughout.
Laine Selwyn scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds and LeCoe Willingham also poured in 15 points to go along with seven rebounds.
When the final buzzer sounded, the contingent of Israeli fans who had accompanied the team to France stormed the court to celebrate with their heroines.
Ramle took control of this game thanks to a dominant second quarter in which they outscored the home team 28-9.
With the blue and white flag draped around the players' shoulders, Ramle last night provided a boost to Israeli basketball. Shay Doron, the star guard and leader of the team, appropriately enough hit two free throws at the end of the fourth quarter to seal the win. Doron battled despite an ankle injury to contribute 14 gritty points in addition to seven rebounds.
"There's nothing better than this," said Doron. "To lift the cup as the captain of an Israeli team is just amazing. There's nothing left to say except Europe is yellow!"
During the on-court celebrations, Doron received a telephone call from Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat. "This is a tremendous achievement," Livnat told Doron. "This was a huge thing and an amazing breakthrough for women's sports."
"We've been doing this all year," said Tanisha Wright, who earlier last year celebrated the WNBA championship with the Seattle Storm. "We never die, we never say quit. Everybody did enough to win today, and we're proud of everybody."
"This is the best moment in my career," said a tearful Ornit Shwartz, who contributed two points. I have no words to describe this. Once I got to this arena, I felt a boom in my stomach."
Ramle shot an impressive 34 percent from the floor and converted on 77 percent of its foul shots. The Israelis also out-rebounded Arras 41-39.
"What an amazing atmosphere in this arena," said Rivi Grinboym, who scored three points. "This will certainly give a boost to women's basketball in Israel. This shows that there is something worth watching."
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