JERUSALEM, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) — Finland’s impressive run in the 2023 FIBA World Cup European Qualifiers continued on Friday with a 97-95 overtime win away to Israel.
Finland, together with Germany and Slovenia, has long secured its qualification to the final from the six-team group J, while Israel was outside, together with Sweden and Estonia.
The first quarter of the game, played at the Shlomo Group Arena in Tel Aviv, was dominated by Israel, who took a 28-13 lead thanks to points and assists from Bar Timor.
Timor and Itay Segev helped the hosts lead 46-35 at halftime, then Idan Zalmanson’s contribution kept Israel in control in the third quarter, ending 70-60.
However, an impressive fourth quarter by Finland, inspired by Mikael Jantunen and Alex Murphy, led to a dramatic overturn.
With 2.3 seconds on the clock, Jantunen missed one from the line and sent the game into overtime at 83-83.
With less than a second left before the final buzzer of overtime, Timor missed a crucial three-pointer, allowing the visitors to celebrate the victory.
Sasu Salin finished with 18 points and seven rebounds for Finland, and Murphy added 17 points and nine rebounds. Timor scored 27 points for Israel.
In the group’s final matchday on Monday, Finland hosts Germany in a first-place decider, while Israel faces Slovenia.
The finals will be held in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia starting on August 25.