09 Dec 14
EuroBasket Women 2015 promises to be a fascinating battle for the Great Britain senior women as they bid to realise their Olympic 2016 dream.
In the extra period, GB head coach Joe Prunty watched his team stun the experienced Israelis with a closing burst of eight successive points to get off to a winning start in Group A.
"We followed our game plan," said Johnson. "We battled to the very end. We didn't hang our heads when we were down nine with two minutes left. We just kept chipping away. We took our opportunities down the stretch. We made some plays.
"Everybody in the locker room stepped up big time and we have to build on this going forward. It was a big win. But at the same time, we have four more games left in this group."
Co-captain Kieron Achara added 18 points and 13 rebounds in the most productive game of his international career with young Birmingham-born forward Myles Hesson contributing 14 points.
But Prunty received a collective effort in a tie that swung back and forth. Johnson hit seven in an early stretch that had Britain up 11-3 after just five minutes, with Dan Clark quickly into action in his 2013 debut.
Israel, led by Omri Casspi of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, cut the gap but found resistance with Hesson stepping up defensively giving GB the edge 34-30 at half-time.
Achara polished off a 7-2 burst early in the third which increased the pressure but Lior Eliyahu sparked the Israelis into life as they went ahead with an 8-2 flurry to close the third period with a 52-47 advantage.
Afik Nissim ignited another push as a 10-2 run helped take his side as much as 66-57 clear with three minutes left in regulation.
However, GB hit back with nine straight points to draw them level and secure the five additional minutes of action in overtime.
And although Israel quickly went 71-67 clear, they were shut down for good with Johnson hitting five points in GB's decisive push before Drew Sullivan sealed victory from the line.
Prunty commented: "They all deserve credit. Kyle made big plays and made big shots all night. People will look at the box score. But he did some amazing things defensively all night too. He had some big rebounds for us and competed at a high level at both ends of the floor."
Britain now meet group favourites, France on Thursday and Prunty will again ask his side to rise up.
"They're obviously one of the top teams in the world," he said. "That goes without saying. It is going to be tough competition for us."
British Basketball's National Teams Director, Warwick Cann added: " The coaches did a good scouting job and the players are focused and learning to battle."
Lior Eliyahu had 11 points and 14 rebounds for Israel.
Later on Wednesday in Group A, Belgium face Ukraine and France take on Germany.
Next up for GB are 2011 EuroBasket runners-up, France, on Thursday evening (20:00 BST) in the Slovene capital.