Israel claimed a morale-boosting victory in its final warm-up game ahead of next
week’s EuroBasket tournament, coming back from 18-points down to defeat Georgia
77-75 in Haifa on Wednesday night.
However, while the win was welcome
news for national team coach Arik Shivek, he will surely be entering the
European Championships in a far from relaxed mood after seeing yet another
extremely erratic display by his side.
A sensational second half, which
included a 20-0 run, may have seen the blue-andwhite clinch the win, but the
team yet again opened a game in dismal fashion, trailing 47- 32 at halftime, and
once more almost gifted its opponent the victory with a late
Israel opened a 71-63 lead with 4:42 to play following its 20-0
surge, but scored just three points in the final 3:20 minutes of the game. The
Georgians had a chance to snatch the win in the final possession, only for
nationalized Georgian and Maccabi Tel Aviv guard Ricky Hickman to turn over the
ball to Yogev Ohayon.
Ohayon led Israel with a national team career-high
of 20 points, also registering six assists, while Yotam Halperin scored 15 and
Omri Casspi contributed 14 points.
Israel played without the injured Alex
Tyus once more, but he is set to be included in the roster for the
“Apart from a few top teams, every side in Europe can beat
any other team, and that includes us and Georgia,” said Shivek. “Basketball is a
game of momentum and they had momentum on their side in the second quarter and
we had it on ours in the second half. The players really wanted to win and they
put themselves under positive pressure. They managed to relax in the second half
and the game flowed much better. When we play as a unit we are very
difficult to stop.”
The national team opens its EuroBasket campaign in
Slovenia against Great Britain next Wednesday (September 4), before facing
Ukraine (September 5), France (September 6), Belgium (September 8) and Germany
(September 9) in Group A.
Apart from Tony Parker’s France, the runner-up
from 2011, Israel will believe it can beat every other team in the group and
finish among the top three to progress to the second round.
the build up to the championships has proven anything it is that the blueand-
white is also capable of losing to any side, something everyone on the team is
well aware of.
“It really hurt us to be down almost 20 points at the
break,” said Ohayon. “We were very anemic and hardly moved on defense. We
exploded in the second half and played the way we want to. I’m worried that we
have only managed to play like this for one half, but if we can do so for an
entire game we can beat any team.”
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