Euro Hoops: Israel draws Croatia for EuroBasket '09 opener

Israel will also face Greece and Macedonia in the first group stage of next September's tournament in Poland.

November 9, 2008 07:16
1 minute read.
Euro Hoops: Israel draws Croatia for EuroBasket '09 opener

Halperin 298.88. (photo credit: AP)

Israel will face Greece, Croatia and Macedonia in the first group stage of next September's EuroBasket tournament in Poland. The national team, which will be playing in its ninth consecutive European Championships, was drawn on Saturday to play Croatia in its Group A opener on September 7, with all its group games to take place in the city of Poznan. The top three teams from the four tournament groups will advance to a second group stage from which the top four from each of the two groups will progress to the quarterfinals. "This isn't an easy draw, but also isn't an impossible one," coach Tzvika Sherf said. "We're not underestimating any team and no one will underestimate us. We will do our best to make sure the players will be ready for our opening game against Croatia." Greece, who will play Macedonia in the opening game of the championship, is undoubtedly the strongest team in the group, finishing fifth in the Beijing Olympics and fourth in EuroBasket 2007. Despite being surprised by Israel in the last European Championships, Croatia finished the tournament in a respectable sixth place and will also be a formidable opponent. Macedonia, which qualified for the championships from first place in Group B, has met Israel plenty of times in recent years and will likely fight with the blue-and-white for third place in the group. Also in the draw, defending champion Russia, which is guided by David Blatt takes on neighbor Latvia, Germany and a final qualifier in Group B. Group C has Britain, Serbia, Spain and Slovenia, and Group D includes Muli Katzurin's Poland, Turkey, Lithuania and Pini Gershon's Bulgaria.

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