Israel remained in the hunt for a place in EuroBasket 2013 on Sunday night with
an 84-53 thrashing of Estonia in Tallinn.
Estonia seriously complicated
Israel’s situation in Group A when it stunned the blue-and-white on the road two
weeks ago, but there would be no repeat of that humbling defeat on Sunday, with
the national team pulling ahead in the second quarter and sailing to a
comfortable win in the second half.
Israel, which improved to a 4-3
record and leapfrogged Estonia into third place, hosts Iceland on Wednesday and
Slovakia on Saturday in two games it will be a firm favorite to win before
ending its qualifying campaign at Serbia next Tuesday.
Three wins in its
remaining qualifiers will secure Israel a place in the European Championships
for an 11th straight time as one of the group’s top two teams.
knowing how difficult it will be to win in Serbia, the blue-and-white will
already be keeping an eye on the other five qualifying groups as the four best
third-placed teams will also advance to EuroBasket 2013 in Slovenia.
Casspi was superb for Israel once more on Sunday, scoring 26 points, hitting 10
of 12 shots, including three of four from beyond the arc.
added 21 points and 11 rebounds, with Yogev Ohayon contributing nine points,
seven boards and seven assists.
Janar Talts had 14 points for Estonia,
which shot a horrible 16.1 percent (5 of 31) from three-point range while being
Israel got off to an erratic start, but an 8-0 run
capped by a Casspi bucket gave the visitors a five-point advantage
Guy Pnini’s basket to end the first quarter opened a 21-13 gap
and the blue-and-white was ahead by doubledigits (40-30) at the
Israel’s big three of Casspi, Eliyahu and Ohayon scored 32 of the
team’s 40 points in the first 20 minutes, with the hosts firing an awful two of
14 from beyond the arc.
After squandering a 17-point lead against Estonia
at home, Israel knew that a 10-point halftime gap guaranteed it nothing and it
surged ahead with an excellent start to the second half.
hit a three, Eliyahu got in on the act once more and Casspi’s basket with 4:20
to go in the period gave Israel a 21-point (53-32) margin.
continued to recklessly hurl shots from beyond the arc, hitting just 9.1 percent
(2 of 22) of its three-point attempts in the first three quarters, and Israel
cruised in the final 10 minutes after taking a 19-point gap (59-40) into the
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