Ironi Ness Ziona outlast Sodertalje Kings in FIBA Europe Cup debut
NESS ZIONA (FIBA Europe Cup) – Ironi Ness Ziona made a victorious entrance to the international stage, edging Sodertalje Kings 72-67 in the home leg of the Qualification Round 1 clash at the Lev Hamoshava Arena on Friday.
Despite getting their FIBA Europe Cup campaign off on the right note, the Israeli side did not rush to celebrations, as the close-fought contest left the tie wide open for the reverse fixture in Sweden in less than a week's time.
Chris Dowe buried a big three-pointer just before the time expired
Turning Point: There were hardly any major plot twists at the Lev Hamoshava Arena in Ness Ziona, but a pair of baskets by Mickell Gladness and Chris Dowe in the last 25 seconds of the game broke a 67-all tie and earned Ironi a two-possession advantage before the away game in Sweden.
Game hero: It did not need any further confirmation, but former NBA Three-Point Contest winner Daequan Cook showed just how dangerous of a shooter he can be by connecting on 5-of-9 triple attempts and finishing the game with a game-high 25 points.
The guests from Sodertalje could not hold on to their lead
Stats don't lie: Maybe they do lie sometimes. Sodertalje Kings looked like the slightly better team throughout the contest and even led by double digits in the first half. The total time Ironi had the upper hand added up to under 8 minutes.
Bottom line: Separated by just five points after the first leg, the tie between Ironi Ness Ziona and Sodertalje Kings is one of only two Qualification Round 1 matchups with a single-digit margin.
They said: "It was a typical first game of a season with a lot of excitement. We were struggling through the first minutes due to the fact that we didn't do our preparations with the entire roster. It took us a lot of time to find our rhythm offensively. I'm happy that we kept coming back defensively, but it's only half time. It's going to be a very tough game in Sweden." – Ironi Ness Ziona head coach Nadav Zilberstein
"It was a very emotional game for us, as it was the first ever game in Europe. I was excited that we got to experience it at home and I'm very pleased we got the win in front of our fans." – Ironi Ness Ziona captain Tal Dunne