Israel’s EuroBasket campaign ended in a miserable manner on Monday night, with the blue-and-white losing 80-76 to Germany to finish bottom of Group A with a 1-4 record.
Despite only winning one of its first four games, snapping a three-game losing streak with a win over Belgium in Ljubljana, Slovenia on Sunday, the national team entered Monday’s game with a real chance of advancing to the second round.
Following Ukraine’s 87-68 victory over Great Britain in the first game of the day, Israel knew that a victory over Germany, which was playing for no more than pride, combined with a likely French triumph over Belgium in the late encounter, would see it finish the group in third place.
The blue-and-white got the contest off to an encouraging start, leading by as many as eight points in the first quarter.
However, the Germans took a one-point edge into halftime and led throughout the second half to cap a depressing European Championships for Israel.
Omri Casspi led Israel with 22 points and 13 rebounds, with Lior Eliyahu and Yotam Halperin scoring 16 points each. Per Gunther had 15 points for Germany.
For a second straight night Halperin hit the ground running, scoring 11 points in the first five minutes of the game, opening an eight-point gap (16-8) midway through the first period with a three-point play.
The blue-and-white still held an eight-point lead (20-12) after 10 minutes, but Israel’s offense began to stall in the second quarter and Germany seized control.
A 9-0 run capped by a Karsten Tadda jumper gave the Germans a one-point edge (25-24), an advantage they still held at the break (31-30).
Germany began the second half with a bombardment from beyond the arc, with Lucca Staiger’s three-pointer, Germany’s fourth of the period, opening an eight-point gap (47-39) midway through the frame.
After scoring a career-high 23 points in the win over Belgium, Afik Nissim didn’t get on the board until late in the third quarter, but his basket brought the national team within three points (50-47).
Germany took a four-point advantage (53-49) into the final 10 minutes and Israel looked to be in deep trouble when Tibor Pleiss’s free throw opened a 59-51 margin.
A Guy Pnini triple gave the blueand- white some hope when it closed the margin to five points (59-54), but Robin Benzing’s three was like a dagger in Israeli hearts, increasing the lead to double digits (64-54).
Israel managed to cut the deficit, but couldn’t complete a comeback, and will return home on Tuesday knowing its EuroBasket 2013 campaign was an utter failure.
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