Israel snatched bronze with Levi scoring a dozen
A brilliant second half performance helped Israel rally past Greece (30:23) and claim the third spot at VRILITTOS 2018. Or Levi was the bronze medal match star player, the one who contributed the most by scoring a dozen goals, in Israel’s attempt to duplicate the medal they won back in 2016,
The Israelis passed the ball frequently to “their goal-machine” Levi, who found the net repeatedly against a weakened Greek defence, which found no solutions to block their opponent’s right back fierce shots. In the meantime, Greece scored mostly with right winger Nikos Tzortzinis.
The first half was more balanced with Israel managing to finally build a two-goal lead at minute 27 (12:10 and 13:11). Greece had the final first-half word though, cutting the difference to one goal (13:12) before both teams headed to the locker rooms.
Greece’s coach Nikos Georgiadis elected to field four full-backs in the second half, using Sarafis (and later on Anagnostopoulos) as a play maker, Papazoglou on the right side, Kotsionis on the left and Biniaris as a winger. In that way he wanted to find more attacking solutions against the Israeli “wall” and create more space for Tzortzinis on the right wing.
The trick paid off, with Tzortzinis scoring in three successive attacks, while goalie Bampatzanidis made a few great saves. At that point, Levi’s scoring spree didn’t allow Greece to take the upper hand and Israel kept a one-goal lead (22:21), 12 minutes from time.
Gradually disappointment for not taking the lead despite finding the net so often as well as fatigue, started to affect the hosting nation. A number of mistakes in both defence and attack occurred, while Israel seemed unstoppable with Maman and Cohen supporting Levi in scoring.
As a result, the Israelis soon took a three-goal advantage and later on made it 28:23 with less than three minutes still on the clock, thus dashed Greek hopes for a medal.
ISRAEL – GREECE 30:23
Scoreline: 1:1, 2:2, 4:4, 7:6, 10:10, 13:12 (halftime), 15:16, 17:16, 20:19, 23:22, 26:23, 30:23
ISRAEL (Nikola Maksimovic): Cohen 2, Zo Letova, Levi 13, Shalma 2, Horvitz 1, Shulman, Hadar 1, Golan 1, Maman 3, Luzon, Salvador, Sharon 5, Dahan, R. Livgot 2, Moradov 1, Buhnik, I. Livgot, Gingold.
GREECE (Nikolaos Geordiadis): Petromelidis, Sina, Vasileiou-Tsafos 1, Janca, Biniaris 3, Tabakos 1, Pagiatis, Tzortzinis 7, Papazoglou 4, Sarafis 5, Dikaioulias, Alexandridis 1, Kotsionis 1, Anagnostopoulos, Skoufas, Anastasiou, Bampatzanidis,Stankidis.
Referees: Mihajlovic – Hercegovac (Bosnia Herzegovina). 2 mins suspensions: 2-3. 7m: 0/2-2/3.
Nikolaos Geordiadis (Coach Greece): “VRILITTOS gave us the chance to play in five really tough games against teams who stand on a higher ground than us. We are lucky to have this tournament in Greece, a competition from which we may benefit extremely.
“I believe we showcased our potential. Now we need to evaluate our performance and appear more competitive next time around.
“We have reasons to feel optimistic having this generation along with the slightly older and younger players at our disposal.
“Of course, everyone, from officials to players and coaching staff must work harder in order to create a strong men’s team as well.
“Congratulations to the organizer of VRILITTOS and may this tournament become even stronger in the upcoming years.”
Nikola Maksimovic (Coach Israel): “We feel happy we won the bronze medal in a tournament like VRILITTOS.
“The game was a close fight for 50 minutes, but our defence tightened in the end and helped us emerge victorious.
“VRILITTOS is my favourite tournament. Once again, we tested our strength and realized which aspects of our game we need to improve.
“I trust we will be among the teams that will qualify at the IHF Men’s Youth World Championship in 2021.”