Israeli national team guard Gal Mekel .
(photo credit: SASHA MATIC)
Israel’s national team was handed a tricky draw in the first round of EuroBasket 2015 in Disneyland Paris on Monday evening, after being placed in Group A with host and defending champion France, as well as Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland and Finland.
The blue-and-white is aiming to advance past the first round of the European Championships for the first time since 2007 after winning just three games in total over the past three tournaments.
The top four teams in the group will progress to the knockout rounds.
“This is the highest level in Europe,” said Israel coach Erez Edelstein, who was handed last week a contract extension until 2016.
“This is a very tough group, but what really matters is how we will play. We want to continue and play with enthusiasm and energy and that is a lot more important than who we will face.”
Israel qualified for EuroBasket 2015 during the summer in impressive fashion, winning its group for the first time since 2001.
The championships will take place from September 5-20, serving as a qualification tournament for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The two EuroBasket finalists will book a direct ticket to the Olympics, while the four teams finishing third to sixth will compete in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
For the first time in the event’s 80-year history, the EuroBasket will be hosted by four countries.
Israel’s group will be played in Montpellier (France), while the other groups will be staged in Berlin (Germany), Riga (Latvia) and Zagreb (Croatia), with the Final Phase set to take place in Lille (France).