Israel overcomes Poland in opener of basketball World Cup qualifiers

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JERUSALEM, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- Israel's national basketball team beat Poland 69-61 at home in the opening round of Group D in FIBA's World Cup qualifiers on Thursday evening.

The game was held at the Drive-In Arena in the coastal city of Tel Aviv in front of 3,500 fans.

The Polish team dominated in the first minutes, leading 19-4, mainly thanks to points by Jakub Garbacz and Michal Kolenda, on the way to a 21-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Israel gradually cut the Polish lead in the second quarter, with an important contribution from Guy Pnini and Tomer Ginat, and took over the lead for the first time on 28-27 in the 18th minute before increasing the gap to 31-27 at halftime.

The third quarter was mostly close, but two consecutive 3-pointers by Gal Mekel and a lay-up by Jake Cohen made it 49-39 for Israelis after 30 minutes.

The visitors cut the Israeli lead to 61-63, after three-pointers by Aleksander Balcerowski and Kolenda with 54 seconds to go, but successful free throws by Mekel and Jake Cohen secured the home side a victory.

Ginat, Mekel and Cohen scored 11 points for Israel, with Ginat adding 11 rebounds. Kolenda scored a game-high 16 points, with Balcerowski adding 11 for Poland.

In the second round of the 4-team group, Israel will play in Estonia, while Poland will host Germany, with both games to be played on Sunday. Enditem

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