Israel effectively secured its place at the European Championships for an 11th
straight time on Saturday, thrashing Slovakia 106-73 at Nokia Arena.
national team climbed to second place in Group A with a 6-3 record, leapfrogging
Serbia following its surprise 88-81 loss at Estonia.
As a result, Israel
can afford to lose its final qualifier at Serbia on Tuesday by 17 points and
still progress to EuroBasket 2013 from second place in the group.
should it drop to a defeat by a greater margin it is set to qualify for the
championships as one of the four-best third-placed finishers from the six groups
as long as it doesn’t lose by 87 points or more.
struggled at the start of Saturday’s game, requiring a Guy Pnini buzzer-beating
three-pointer to take a 23-19 lead into the second period.
three-pointer early in the second quarter even gave the Slovaks the lead
(26-25), but the hosts were in control at the break with a seven-point cushion
The second half quickly became an Israel procession, with the
blue-and-white beginning the third frame with a 15- 3 run to clinch the
Omri Casspi and Lior Eliyahu led six Israel players in double-figures
with 18 points each.
Eliyahu also had 12 assists and 10 rebounds to
complete a triple double, with Alex Tyus contributing 16 points and 11 boards.
Jozef Vojtek had 17 points for Slovakia.