Seesaw campaign has Israel in precarious spot
With three qualification games left, blue-and-white faces complicated path to advancement.
Lior Eliyahu Photo: Estonia Basketball Association
On the one hand, it is really quite simple.
Should Israel win its three
remaining EuroBasket 2013 qualifiers – beginning with the game against Iceland
at Nokia Arena on Wednesday night followed by the home encounter with Slovakia
on Saturday and ending with the showdown on the road at Serbia next Tuesday – it
will advance to an 11th straight European Championships from second place in
However, should there be no major upsets in the group, next
Tuesday’s meeting in Belgrade with perennial powerhouse Serbia will be a
winnertakes- all situation, and that would be a massive challenge for any team,
let alone the current erratic Israel side.
A third-place finish may well
also be enough to qualify for EuroBasket 2013, but only the four best
third-places teams from the six groups will progress, meaning Israel finds
itself in a seriously complicated situation.
Israel will already be
nervously checking up on results in other groups on Wednesday, hoping that its
streak of reaching the EuroBasket tournament will not be broken even should it
lose to Serbia.
However, the national team will first of all need to
defeat the weak Iceland and Slovakia, preferably by as big a margin as possible
as basket differential could ultimately be decisive.
even further is the fact that Israel’s results against the bottom side in Group
A will not be taken into account in the calculation as all the other groups are
comprised of just five teams rather than six.
Slovakia currently edges
Iceland at the bottom of Group A thanks to a superior basket differential, with
both teams owning a 1-6 record.
Another factor which needs to be
considered is that FIBA’s first tiebreaker between two teams with an identical
win-loss record will be points-for divided by points-against, meaning for
example that an 80-60 win is more valuable than a 100-80 victory.
Israeli staff’s calculators will be working extra hard over the coming days, but
the players will have to be focused on getting the job done on court, starting
with Wednesday’s game against Iceland.
“There is no point in speaking
about any game other than the one against Iceland,” said Omri Casspi, who is
averaging 19.3 points and 5.9 rebounds in an excellent campaign.
to focus on Iceland, win that game, and then win on Saturday and only then think
about Serbia. It is going to be very difficult to win in Serbia.”
beat Iceland 110-83 on the road two weeks ago, but coach Arik Shivek is adamant
that the national team should first take care of business on Wednesday and only
then take a look at results from other groups.
“I’ve already said that in
a campaign like this you should never look too far ahead,” Shivek said. “This is
a very long campaign and we need to focus on Iceland.
“We need to win
this game by as big a margin as possible and then we can take a look at other
groups and see where we stand.”