July 17, 2014
HERAKLION, Greece – Even before officially joining the Rice University men’s basketball squad, sophomore transfer Egor Koulechov is making a great first impression with his solid play for Israel in the FIBA U20 European Championship.
In 23 minutes per game, Koulechov averages 7.9 points and 3.6 rebounds per contest for the squad, which plays in the semifinal round on Friday.
In the opening game of the tournament, Koulechov played a team-high 31 minutes in a 74-49 win over Poland. He notched 11 points with five rebounds and a pair of steals in the victory. In the second game of group play, Israel fell, 75-63, to France. The Owl notched six points and three boards in the setback.
Koulechov and the squad rebounded from the loss to tally a 58-56 win over Russia and an 82-68 triumph over Bulgaria to advance to the second round. He tallied 12 points and six rebounds over the stretch.
The second round of play divided the remaining 12 teams into two groups vying for a spot in this weekend’s quarterfinals. Israel advanced as one of the top four teams in its group, despite early setbacks to Croatia (80-76) and Turkey (79-66). Koulechov recorded 13 points and five boards over the two contests.
The team then punched its ticket to its first quarterfinal since 2007 with a 79-67 win over Italy on Wednesday. With the game in the balance midway through the fourth period, Koulechov sank his first three-pointer of the game to spark a 10-0 run and put Israel in the lead for good. He finished with 13 points, six rebounds and a pair of steals.
Israel takes on round two Group E champion Serbia on Friday. Serbia has posted a 6-1 record in the tournament with each of the wins coming by more than eight points. The lone setback was a one-point loss to host Greece.
The tournament semifinals are scheduled for Saturday with the championship on Sunday.
The Volgograd, Russia native saw action in 27 games for Arizona State as a freshman in 2013-14, including seven starts. Koulechov averaged 3.7 points and 2.8 rebounds while shooting 43.8 percent from the field and 11-of-33 from downtown.
Koulechov spent two seasons at The Sagemont School in Weston, Fla., but grew up in Israel from the age of seven and spent the recent summers playing for the Israeli national team. In his time with the U-18 national squad, he led the team with 19.8 points and 7.9 rebounds in the 2012 European Championship B Division, including 33 points against the Czech Republic.