Friendship Games: Friendly competition

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Friendship Games: Friendly competition
Jun 22, 2018

By Julia Karron

EILAT, Israel — Following the opening ceremonies’ raucous dance party, players put on a more competitive face for Friday’s cultural events revolving around basketball.

A 3-on-3 tournament comprised of 28 teams, as well as a three point shooting and dunk contest were the showcased cultural event, with teams mixed between players of different countries.

In the three-point shooting contest, Lithuania won the men’s competition, while Russia and Ukraine tied as the women’s winners.

“Everyone can shoot threes, but not everyone can make threes,” Lithuania assistant coach Airidas Nutautas said before his team’s game this morning.

That evening, Lithuania proved they could make the most.

Games of the Day

Men’s Division

Lithuania 86, Ireland 41

A feisty seven-man and coachless Ireland squad couldn’t keep up with powerhouse Lithuania, with the closest gap at 18-11 at the end of the first quarter. Lithuania is looking to win their sixth straight championship.

With turnovers galore between the two teams in the first four minutes, Lithuania broke out a 9-0 run before the 3:29 minute mark of the first quarter when Ireland made their first shot.

But Ireland’s run and gun style kept the game within reach. Tal Salman, head of delegation explained that spectators were “going to see a lot of fun basketball from us.”

“Everyone can shoot threes, but not everyone can make threes,” Lithuanian assistant coach Airidas Nutautas said of his team before the game. Lithuania only hit one of their six threes in the second quarter, the fewest attempts of any of the four quarters.

This lead to a more grinding style in the paint, bullying the smaller Irish team for easy twos.

It wore them down, and by the third quarter Lithuania broke out a 39 point lead, with Simonas Kriaučiunas knocking down fourteen points.

Despite and early fourth quarter three from Ireland’s Arin Lee, Lithuania kept pressing inside and attempted nine more threes.

Women’s Division

Ukraine 41, Russia 31

When asked if they would win today’s matchup, both Ukraine and Russia’s coaches responded simply “yes, of course.” But only one team was true to their word in a tightly contested matchup with Ukraine coming out on top.

Ukraine came out flying with a quick layup from Anzhelika Zvoliak. A speedy player, Mary Kovton said of her “once she makes one, she keeps on going.”

Ukraine’s game plan heading into today’s game was to shoot threes but not get bogged down in a track meet. Once Ukraine gained possession, they took their time, opting for moving the ball around to find easy layups and mid range jump shots. On defense, their active hands swarmed the Russians passing plays and led to turnovers.

But Russia closed the gap to two in the second quarter, hitting a few quick layups of their own lead by Julia Dahnoba. Russia would take the lead 19-17 with four minutes left in the second quarter, but Ukraine kept pressing in the paint, and took a 23-22 lead into the half.

The Russians tried to forces the issue in the early goings of the third quarter, but only scored six points, Dahnoba scoring most of them.

Ukraine then dominated the fourth quarter and held Russia to three points.

Friday’s Scores

Men’s Division

Israeli Arabs 59, Palestine 37

Ukraine 47, Poland 26

Eilat 55, Jordan 44

Women’s Division

ASA Israel 30, Israeli Arabs 22

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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