Finland beat Israel in basketball World Cup qualifiers

Finland’s impressive journey in the 2023 FIBA World Cup European qualifiers continued on Friday with a 97-95 away win against Israel in overtime.

Finland, together with Germany and Slovenia, have long secured their qualification to the finals from the six-team Group J, while Israel was left out, along with Sweden and Estonia.

The first quarter of the game, played at the Shlomo Group Arena in Tel Aviv, was dominated by Israel, who took a 28-13 lead thanks to points and assists by Bar Timor.

Timor and Itay Segev helped the hosts lead 46-35 at halftime, then Idan Zalmanson’s contribution kept Israel in control through the third quarter, ending 70-60.

However, an impressive fourth quarter by Finland, inspired by Mikael Jantunen and Alex Murphy, led to a dramatic overturn.

With 2.3 seconds on the clock, Jantunen missed one from the line and sent the game into overtime at an 83-83 tie.

Less than a second to go before the final buzzer of the overtime, Timor missed a crucial three-pointer, allowing the visitors to celebrate the win.

Sasu Salin finished with 18 points and seven rebounds for Finland, and Murphy added 17 points and nine rebounds. Timor scored a game-high 27 points for Israel.

In the closing gameday of the group on Monday, Finland will host Germany in a decider for the first place, while Israel will play Slovenia.

The finals will be held in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia starting on August 25. ■

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