Israel falls to second straight EuroBasket loss

Despite the dejecting start to the championships, Israel has still got its fate in its own hands.

September 3, 2017 03:58
3 minute read.
Richard Howell’s (left) best efforts, Israel dropped to a second straight defeat in EuroBasket 2017

Richard Howell’s (left) best efforts, Israel dropped to a second straight defeat in EuroBasket 2017 last night, falling to Lithuania at Yad Eliyahu Arena in Tel Aviv, September 2, 2017... (photo credit: AVI AVISHAI)

Blue-and-white has to defeat Germany after being thrashed by Lithuania Israel was outplayed for a second straight EuroBasket game on Saturday night, being humbled 88-73 by Lithuania to fall to 0-2 in Group B.

After being crushed by 21 points (69-48) in its opener against Italy last Thursday, the blue-and-white was hoping to bounce back against group favorite Lithuania. It managed to keep the contest tight during the first half, just as it did against Italy, trailing by a single point (38-37) at the break. But the game was effectively decided with 10 minutes still to play, with Lithuania outscoring the hosts 33-14 in the third quarter to open a 20-point gap (71-51) from which Israel was never going to return.

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Despite the dejecting start to the championships, Israel has still got its fate in its own hands. Three wins in its remaining group games will see it finish in the top four and advance to the last 16.

It will need to register a dramatic improvement to do so though, especially with the unbeaten Germany awaiting on Sunday.

Germany enters Sunday’s encounter at a perfect 2-0 after defeating Georgia 67-57 on Saturday. Israel will have to find a way to slow down Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroder, who after scoring 32 points in Thursday’s victory over Ukraine, led Germany with 23 points on Saturday. Germany only scored 12 points in the fourth quarter, but held Georgia to a mere five points in the final 10 minutes.

Israel will have a rest day on Monday before wrapping up group action with games against Georgia and Ukraine on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

Richard Howell led Israel with 20 points on Saturday, with the blueand- white’s collapse coming after he picked up his fourth foul and went to the bench at the start of the second half. Gal Mekel added 18 points, with Omri Casspi adding 15 points.

“I’m pleased with the energy we showed tonight but we struggled to compete with their size,” said Mekel.

“We need to register an improvement in our remaining games and we still believe in ourselves. Now we face three games that will decide everything for us. We are still in control of our fate and we are not going to give up.”

Edgaras Ulanovas had 18 points for Lithuania, which moved to 1-1 after being surprised by Georgia on Thursday.

Lithuania outrebounded Israel 43-21, taking 14 offensive boards.

After scoring just a single three-pointer against Italy, Israel already made two in the first quarter on Saturday, and trailed 23-19 after 10 minutes.

Four turnovers early in the second period gifted Lithuania the momentum, but Howell ensured the blueand- white remained in touch, keeping the team within a point at the break.

However, Israel lost its way when Howell had to go to the bench with his fourth foul, with Lithuania going on a 12-0 run to open a 52-39 margin.

Matters only got worse for Israel after that and it was clear it wasn’t the hosts’ night when Lithuania ended the third quarter with a three-pointer from well behind the half-court line at the buzzer.

Also Saturday, Italy improved to 2-0, beating Ukraine 78-66. Marco Belinelli had 26 points for Italy, which was watched by San Antonio Spurs head coach Greg Popovich, who came to Tel Aviv to support his assistant and Italy coach Ettore Messina.

On Sunday, Ukraine plays Georgia and Lithuania comes up against Italy.

On TV: EuroBasket 2017 group play: Israel vs Germany (live on Sport5 at 9:30 p.m.)

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