40 Minutes Away
Uri Savir ,09/12/2005
Israel overcame an early 17-point deficit despite a terrible free throw shooting night and with 9 late points by Hajaj defeated the Czech Republic 83-78. Tonight against Hungary, it's all or nothing.

It didn't go easy at all. Tapiro has had another poor evening, Burstein looked like Shaque from the line (6 for 14!) and the Czech ran to an early 17-point lead. But Israel under coach Sherf have a great spirit, which helped them to win and get within 40 minutes from the European Championships.

Burton was in a great zone, scoring 13 first quarter points, as only Green answers with 10 of his own. The Czech led 26-21 after one quarter, but Starosta was unstoppable in the paint, and 8 unanswerred points made it a 34-21 lead, when Welsch picked up hsi 3rd personal foul.

Israel finished 5 minutes with only one field goal, and the margin was as high as 43-26, when Burstein started the run with a three-pointer and an assist to Shason's 3-point play, quickly followed by another trey. Markovich and Kozikaro locked the hoop and threw away the key, Shason converted and Burstein closed the 16-0 run just like it started with as he connected from outside.

The Czech finished the half with a basket and a 45-42 lead, but Israel didn't stop and scored another 7 straight points to complete a 23-2 amazing run to put them 4 points ahead.

Welsch picked up another foul, but Burstein made only 3 of 10 foul shots, and Israel was still trailing after 30 minutes, 58-60. Welsch, with 6 clutch points, made it a 4-point game, but Hajaj took the call.

It started with a huge three-pointer, continued with a great assist to Green and another bank shot made it 76-73. Welsch couldn't excute and Israel scored 7 of 8 foul shots down the stretch, including 4 by the MVP Hajaj, to ice the win, 83-78.

Burstein had 16 (7 rebs, 4 as), Hajaj 15 (6-6 FT, 4 st), Green 14, Shason 11, Tapiro 8, Kozikaro 5, Markovich 2 and Watson 1. Milos tallied 15 in a losing cause, Burton added 13 (all in the first quarter), Welsch and Benda 10 each and Whitfield 9.

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