Blue-and-white makes it six straight tune-up victories

Israel trailed by eight points after the first quarter, but dominated the second half to defeat the Brits for the second time in two days.

August 14, 2017 01:26
2 minute read.
Blue-and-white makes it six straight tune-up victories

Guard Gal Mekel was Israel’s top scorer with 16 points in last night’s win over Great Britain at the Drive-In Arena in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)

Israel picked up another win and remained perfect in its preparations for EuroBasket 2017 on Sunday night, defeating Great Britain 78-69 at the Drive-In Arena in Tel Aviv to move to 6-0 this summer.

Israel trailed by eight points after the first quarter, but dominated the second half to defeat the Brits for the second time in two days.

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After missing four of the team’s first five games this summer, Israel welcomed back captain Omri Casspi, with Yogev Ohayon also returning to action after overcoming a muscle strain.

Casspi scored only seven points on 1-of-7 from the field, while Ohayon played for 10 minutes, but Israel was still too strong for the Brits “We fought back from a difficult situation and that is very encouraging,” said Israel coach Erez Edelstein. “Saturday’s game was a little fake because they were without some of their best players. It is nice to win tune-up games but it doesn’t guarantee us anything in the tournament.

We are 18 days before the championships and we need some fine tuning and we will be ready.”

Israel will continue its preparations with two more games in Tel Aviv, facing Slovenia at Yad Eliyahu Arena on Friday afternoon before hosting Turkey at the same venue on Sunday night.

Gal Mekel led Israel with 16 points, while Idan Zalmanson finished with 10 points and nine rebounds.

“We didn’t move the ball well in the first half, but we did better in the second half and lifted our level of aggressiveness on defense,” said Casspi. “We have two tough games coming up and we will try to lift ourselves.”

Israel lacked intensity at the start of the game, allowing the visitors to build an eight-point gap (24-16) by the end of the first quarter.

The Brits remained in control until the blue-and-white went on an 11-2 run to take a one-point lead (41-40) late in the first half.

The game remained tight until the midway point of the third frame when Israel improved its composure on defense and seized control of the contest.

Israel outscored the Brits 18-6 in the final five-and-ahalf minutes of the quarter, taking a 66-57 margin into the final 10 minutes.

Gal Mekel’s turnaround jumper to start the fourth period opened a double-digit gap (68-57) for the first time and Israel cruised to the win.

The national team will play 10 warm-up games in total ahead of the start of the European Championships, which will be held in Israel for the first time. The blueand- white will face Italy, Lithuania, Germany, Georgia and Ukraine in Group B of EuroBasket 2017, with all the group games to take place at Yad Eliyahu Arena in Tel Aviv between August 31 and September 6.

The top four teams from each of the four groups advance to the knockout rounds which will be played in Istanbul, Turkey between September 9 and 17.

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