Israel national team coach Erez Edelstein.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Israel coach Erez Edelstein will announce the team’s 12-man roster for EuroBasket 2017 on Tuesday, with the blue-and-white entering the final stretch of its preparations ahead of Thursday’s opener against Italy at Yad Eliyahu Arena in Tel Aviv.
The national team returned to training on Monday after a one-day break and Edelstein will have to cut one more player on Tuesday to reduce his roster to 12 men ahead of the championships, which are being held in Israel for the first time.
Forwards Amit Simhon and Elishay Kadir, who both saw little action during the summer, are believed to be fighting it out for the final spot on the roster, with the former more likely to receive bad news on Tuesday.
Guards Gal Mekel (Gran Canaria), Yogev Ohayon (Hapoel Jerusalem), Bar Timor (Hapoel Jerusalem), Yotam Halperin (Hapoel Jerusalem) and Shawn Dawson (Bnei Herzliya) all look certain to be part of the team. The forward positions will be filled by Omri Casspi (Golden State Warriors), Guy Pnini (Hapoel Holon), Oz Blayzer (Maccabi Haifa) and Lior Eliyahu (Hapoel Jerusalem), with Richard Howell (Hapoel Jerusalem) and Idan Zalmanson (Maccabi Rishon Lezion) to be the team’s centers.
Simhon missed Monday’s session due to a fever, with Timor spraining his ankle but returning to the court towards the end of the practice.
“The decision regarding the final player to be cut is not easy,” Edelstein said. “We also have some injuries so we will have to think about it and decide.”
After facing Italy in its tournament opener, Israel plays Lithuania on Saturday and Germany next Sunday. The blueand- white will then enjoy a oneday break before facing Georgia and Ukraine on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, to wrap up its group games.
All Group B action will be played at Yad Eliyahu, with Italy and Germany already holding their first training sessions in Ramat Gan on Monday.
The top four teams from each of the four groups will advance to the knockout rounds which will be played in Istanbul, Turkey from September 9 to 17.
Israel will be playing in the European Championships for a 13th consecutive occasion, a streak stretching back to 1993.
The blue-and-white is hoping to progress to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2003.
Israel finished tune-up action with a 9-2 record, but lost to Great Britain by 21 points in its final preparation game.
“We need to learn to cope with aggressiveness and size,” explained Edelstein. “Players will have to lift their level of play and take more responsibility.
We need to significantly improve our defense and play with intensity from the start.
Sometimes you can make up for mistakes with energy. Great Britain gave us a wake up call and I hope we can respond to it.”