Thumbs up for Israeli basketball

Israel’s U20 men’s team celebrates with the trophy. Photo: FIBA Europe

INTERNATIONAL history was made in Israeli basketball on July 22 when the Jewish State won the 2018 FIBA U20 Men’s European Basketball Championships in Germany, crushing Croatia – who had not been beaten all tournament – by 80-66 in the final.

It was the first time Israel won a FIBA tournament at any level, let alone one on Europe’s highest stage, and it cam after three painful defeats in previous finals.

After opening the tournament with a heartbreaking loss against the host nation, the Ariel Beit-Halachmi-coached Israeli side won six games in a row to clinch the title.

The score was 47-45 with a couple of minutes played in the third quarter of the final, but a 7-0 run for Israel proved a decisive blow for Croatia.

The result garnered instant jubilation in Israel, from the average fan through to the president.

Michael Brisker, who top-scored with 19 points, said “nothing came easy – we worked very hard for this moment, and we made history.”

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin congratulated the team, saying “what a proud Israeli moment – thank you all who have brought us this great honour”.