Friendship Games: Ukraine, Lithuania win titles

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Friendship Games: Ukraine, Lithuania win titles
Jun 27, 2018

By Julia Karron

EILAT, Israel – After two championship games Wednesday evening closed the competition at the 13th annual Friendship Games, the participants and tournament officials headed for the beach to the dolphin pools. Each pool had a different salinity level: one fresh water, one equivalent to the Red Sea which also played music when a person’s ears were submerged, and one equivalent to the Dead Sea.

There, with everyone dressed in white to symbolize the friendships made at the games, several participants delivered speeches, focusing on friendships made throughout the tournament, before ending the evening with dancing and more celebration of the event’s purpose.

Women’s Final

Ukraine 54, Russia 45

Behind 26 points from Tania Yurkevichus, Ukraine defeated Russia for the second time this week to win the Games’ women’s tournament for the first time.

“The last time we played them was first game. We can do better,” said Ukraine’s Mary Kovton, whose team beat Russia, 54-45, last Friday.

Momentum see-sawed between both teams throughout. Spurred in part by the support of the Poland players leading a clapping chant, Russia led by as many as five in the second quarter.

Russia’s team attache Anna Goldman translated the speech given to the players, which implored them “to listen and see how the game’s flowing.”

In the second half, Yurkevichus led a Ukraine attack that disrupted Russia’s offense and thwarted any second chances on the offensive glass.

And as the final moments ticked away, it was Ukraine’s turn to get some crowd support – this time from its men’s players cheering wildly on the sideline.

Men’s Final

Lithuania 68, ASA Israel 54

Lithuania captured the men’s title for the sixth consecutive year – and third straight time over ASA Israel in the final. The team representing Lithuania, Vytautus Magnus University, also won the title last year.

Aiming to force sharp-shooting Lithuania away from the perimeter, ASA Israel sought a more physical game to disrupt Lithuania’s rhythm.

Telling his players, “come to play and don’t be nice,” ASA Coach Gal Karsh saw his plan work, as ASA Israel led at halftime, 34-29.

The physical play came to head early in the third quarter, when Israel’s Yehonatan Alfasi fouled Lithuania’s Simonas Kriaučiunhs on an attempted layup. Players from both team jawed at one another, before Alfasi and Oz Vaturi were assessed a technical fouls.

The scuttle lit a spark under Lithuania, which adjusted to Israel’s tight perimeter defense and began successfully attacking the basket. Lithuania went four of eight from three to take a 45-39 lead, capped by baskets from Urites Įuknevicius and Dominicas Domarkas, and never let go of the lead afterward.

 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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