Israel forward Omri Casspi scored a team-high 16 points in last night’s 85-81 win over Romania in a tune-up game ahead of EuroBasket 2017..
(photo credit: ALINA-DIANA COJOCARU)
Israel beat Romania for the second time in 48 hours on Sunday night to continue to build confidence ahead of EuroBasket 2017.
The blue-and-white was not in control on Sunday night the way it was two days earlier, but still managed to come back from a double-digit deficit to claim an 85-81 victory.
Israel welcomed captain Omri Casspi back into the fold after he missed Friday’s tune-up game due to NBA rules regarding the amount of days players can take part in national team activity.
The Golden State Warriors forward led the team with 16 points and six rebounds in 23 minutes.
Guy Pnini added 11 points, with Oz Blayzer, Yogev Ohayon and Shawn Dawson scoring 10 points each for the blue-and-white, which was still missing forward Lior Eliyahu who remained in Israel.
“I hadn’t played in threeand- a-half months so it was fun to be back on court,” said Casspi. “We know we still have plenty to work on, but it was good to win a game like this.”
Israel coach Erez Edelstein was pleased with the team’s fighting spirit.
“We didn’t play defense the way we are supposed to and we were also slightly confused on offense but that is typical of this stage of the preparations,” said Edelstein.
“But you saw our roster has pride and they fought for the win.”
Vlad Moldoveanu had 27 points for Romania.
The national team will play 10 warm-up games in total ahead of the start of the European Championships, which will be held in Israel for the first time.
The blue-and-white will face Italy, Lithuania, Germany, Georgia and Ukraine in Group B of EuroBasket 2017, with all the group games to take place at Yad Eliyahu Arena in Tel Aviv between August 31 and September 6.
Israel’s next games will be in St. Petersburg. The blue-andwhite faces Finland on Saturday and Russia on Sunday.
Romania got off to a better start on Sunday, opening a seven-point gap (25-18) after 10 minutes. Israel scored nine of the first 11 points of the second quarter to tie the score (27-27) and the contest remained tight until the break, with the hosts leading by four points (44-40).
A 9-0 run saw Romania establish the first double-digit margin (63-53) of the night, but Israel improved its defense in the final two minutes of the third frame, closing to within five points (67- 62) with 10 minutes to play.
Romania was still ahead by seven points (74-67) with less than seven minutes to play, but Israel moved up a gear when it needed to, going on a 9-1 run on the back of four straight points by Idan Zalmanson to take the lead (76-75).
The blue-and-white would hold Romania to just six points in the final five minutes of the encounter and its final nine points came from the free-throw line, hitting 9-of-10 attempts after previously going 8-of-22.