Friendship Games: Final four

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Friendship Games: Final four
Jun 26, 2018

By Julia Karron

EILAT, Israel – The focus of the day was squarely on the basketball, as there were no official cultural events held on Tuesday. With the day off before the championships tomorrow, teams hung around the hotel, spent the day at the beach or pool and attended the men’s semifinal games.

Games of the Day

Men’s semifinals

Lithuania 48, Eilat 37

Eilat tried to slow the pace, but even that couldn’t slow Lithuania, which advanced to play for its sixth championship.

Eilat Coach Orem Hazut said the game was “all about the energy” and his team’s ability to “control the tempo,” and it worked to keep the game close for three quarters.

But when Eilat’s shooting went cold late, Lithuania was able to break free.

That physical fight was what Lithuanian coach Airidas Nutautas was looking for, saying all game “we fight, we search for the win.”

Nutautas is seeking his first win as a coach, but he won as a player with Vytautus Magnus University in last year’s Friendship games. This is VMU’s second appearance at the Friendship games, and they’re seeking a second consecutive championship. Overall, teams from Lithuania have won the past five games.

ASA Israel 39, Ukraine 36

ASA Israel and Ukraine met for the third consecutive year in the semifinals, and while Ukraine almost flipped the script of the past two years, ASA Israel is headed to its third straight finals against Lithuania.

With 6-foot-9 Roman Umanyuk – who returned to the lineup after an ankle injury – and 6-8 Yevgen Vornym, Ukraine wanted to keep it a half-court game. ASA Israel Coach Gal Karsh, meantime, tried to neutralize Ukraine’s size advantage by pushing the pace and trying to catch Ukraine in transition.

But Ukraine stormed back in to the game in the third quarter after trailing by 13. With 2:43 left in the third quarter, Ukraine finally got a put-back to fall, subsequently going on a 13-0 run to pull even. With three lead changes, Ukraine’s final push wasn’t enough, thanks to ASA Israel’s Yehonatan Alfasi hitting two crucial free throws with in the closing seconds to seal the victory.

The event’s organizers sponsored student coverage of the Friendship Games. Editorial control of the coverage and content remained with the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism and the Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

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