Basketball / EuroBasket 2013 / Poor rebounding costs Israel dearly
Montenegro rallies for 81-76 win.
Failure by the defense to block out Montenegro buried Israel yesterday, as the national basketball team fell 81-76 at Yad Eliahu. Montenegro pulled down 17 offensive boards, including crucial rebounds in the final minute, leading to a treasure trove of second-chance points.
Israel took a 61-58 lead into the fourth quarter and went up 67-60, but Montenegro stormed back, reeling off 10 straight points. Lior Eliyahu fouled out during that stretch.
Omri Casspi then took charge of the situation. He hit four straight free throws and a three-pointer to give Israel a 75-72 lead. Yet once again Montenegro made Israel pay for failing to block out as Bojan Dubljevic followed up an offensive rebound with a game-tying three-pointer. Israel missed, and Montenegro went up 77-75 on the fast break with 54.9 ticks remaining.
After Alex Tyus missed his free-throw attempts, Marko Popovic missed a three-pointer as the shot clock expired, but Montenegro nabbed another offensive board. Two free throws gave Montenegro a four-point lead at the 18.4 second mark.
Casspi converted only one free throw on Israel's next possession, and by that time Israel had to foul. Montenegro made its shots from the charity stripe to seal the victory.
At one point in the first half, Montenegro had taken 30 shots to Israel's 20, as it surged to a 24-17 lead.
Yogev Ohayon, who made another stellar performance following his showing against Serbia on Tuesday, then helped Israel go on a 9-2 run to tie up the game, capping it with a steal and fast-break basket with four minutes left in the first half.
The game was still tied 28-28 when Casspi and Tyus teamed up to spark a 9-1 run that charged the crowd. Casspi fed Tyus two straight alley-oops, the second after Ohayon rebounded against a taller opponent. Israel got the ball back and Ohayon found Tyus for another basket.
Israel's final possession of the half was just like the one against Serbia on Tuesday, with Guy Pnini hitting a three-pointer. This time, however, Montenegro had enough time to get a basket back to cut Israel's lead to 37-31 going into the break.
Montenegro retook the lead in the middle of the third period at 53-52. Eliyahu put Israel back up 54-53. After a defensive stop, Ohayon drove into the lane and fed Pnini an assist. Montenegro tied again, but Ohayon found an open Elishay Kadir for the dunk. Ohayon drew a charge on the next play, but then things went momentarily wrong for Israel.
Dagan Yivzori missed a three-pointer with four seconds left and Casspi committed his fourth foul.
No worries - Ohayon ran down the court and sent a sailing buzzer-beater in the air to give Israel the 61-58 lead at the end of the quarter. Unfortunately, his heroics were not enough to carry Israel through the entire 40 minutes.
Israel next faces a must-win at Estonia on Sunday if it wants a chance at finishing among the top two to earn an automatic bid in next year's finals.