Israeli forward Omri Casspi.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
With its record in tune-up games ahead of EuroBasket 2017 already at 7-0, and with the start of the tournament only 11 days away, Israel aims to continue and pick up momentum when it faces Turkey at Yad Eliyahu Arena in Tel Aviv on Sunday night.
It will be the blue-and-white’s last game at Yad Eliyahu before it comes up against Italy in its EuroBasket opener in Tel Aviv next Thursday. Israel, which is hosting the European Championships for the first time, still has three more preparation games to play over three days in Poland starting from Thursday.
But first, it will hope to get local fans even more excited with another win against Turkey after registering its seventh straight victory this summer by beating Slovenia 89-84 at Yad Eliyahu on Friday afternoon.
After facing Italy in its tournament opener on August 31, Israel plays Lithuania two days later and Germany the following day.
The blue-and-white will then enjoy a one-day break before facing Georgia and Ukraine on consecutive days to wrap up its group games.
The top four teams from each of the four groups will advance to the knockout rounds which will be played in Istanbul, Turkey between September 9 and 17.
Israel got off to a fast start on Friday and never lost the lead.
An Omri Casspi basket completed a 10-2 run to begin the game, but Slovenia, playing with the likes of Miami Heat star Goran Dragic and teenage phenom Luka Doncic, was within just six points (29-23) after10 minutes.
It would come no closer in the first half though, with Israel scoring 16 of the first 20 points of the second period to open a 45-27 advantage. The hosts led by as many as 22 points (51- 29) before taking what seemed like a comfortable 19-point gap (51-32) into the break. The blueand- white was still ahead by 14 points (71-57) entering the final 10 minutes, but allowed Slovenia to go on a 16-2 run to close within a mere four points (81- 77) with three-and-a-half minutes to play. Points by Guy Pnini and Shawn Dawson steadied the ship and Israel recorded another confidence-boosting win.
Casspi led Israel with 23 points on 9-of-14 from the field, also grabbing eight rebounds in 27 minutes. Richard Howell added 16 points.
“We need to learn from this game how to play when we have the lead,” said Casspi. “We were facing a very talented team and this was a good practice game for us.”
Doncic had 24 points for Slovenia, with Dragic netting 17.
“We were a little overconfident in the fourth quarter and it is good this happened to us now,” said Israel coach Erez Edelstein.
“All in all I’m pleased as we were excellent for the first 25 minutes. We need to continue that way.”
On TV: EuroBasket 2017 preparation: Israel vs Turkey (live on Sport5+Live at 9 p.m.)