Estonia's men's national basketball team has gone through to the next stage of the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament for next year's summer games in Paris, after beating Israel at home, 67:65, in a closely fought group clash Tuesday.
The score line by quarter was 20:12, 16:22, 16:16, 15:15.
Small forward Kaspar Treier (Dinamo Sassari) said after the game: "Israel plays a strange type of basketball, from our perspective: They press a lot, switch a lot."
"We were quite ready for that, and we fared quite well, but we made some turnovers, which is unfortunately how it is," Treier went on.
Small forward Joonas Riismaa (New Basket Brindisi) said while the match had been physically very demanding: "In the end we took victory, so I think that's the most important thing."
"The crowd gave us a lot of support, and I think that was one of the reasons why I managed to defend at the end for a change," he added.
Estonia started its group games with a loss to the Czech Republic, followed by a victory over North Macedonia. Israel defeated the Czech Republic and North Macedonia, and placed first in the group overall after Tuesday's match, while victory for Estonia was sufficient to go through to the main table, in second place.
Estonian national team player, small forward Artur Konontšuk (Covirán Granada) said Israel had proved the toughest opponent in the group.
The hosts started off better, leading 4:0, then 6:5 and then progressing to 15.5. the score-line at the end of the quarter was 20:12.
Israel narrowed the gap in the second quarter, eventually tying at 32:32, though Estonia went ahead again 36:34 at the end of the quarter.
The third period saw the visitors go ahead, 48:38, only for Estonia to string together 12 points to Israel's one, so the hosts remained ahead, by just two points, at the end of the quarter (52:50).
The fourth quarter was a tit-for-tat exchange as both teams led at different points in time, Israel taking things to 62:62, but, thanks to Riismaa and Treier, a 66:62 final score for the match was reached.
Israel had one player sent off; Estonia's top scorer was Treier with 16 points, followed by Konontšuk with 12.
Estonia will next play the top team from Group B in Gliwice, Poland, on Friday.
The group's games have not been resolved yet, and Estonia could be facing any one from Poland, Bosnia and Herzegovina or Portugal.
If they progress beyond that point, the preliminary tournament final beckons on Sunday, August 20, also In Gliwice.
The FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament winner, as the competition's name might hint, gets automatic qualification for the Olympic Games in Paris next year.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Siim Boikov
Source: ERR Sport