Israel Center Richard Howell (left) loses the ball to Georgia’s Tornike Shengelia during last night’s EuroBasket encounter at Yad Eliyahu Arena in Tel Aviv..
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
A tournament that promised so much for Israel will end in dejection on Wednesday night after the blue-and-white lost any chance of advancing to the last 16 of the EuroBasket with a 104-91 defeat to Georgia in overtime on Tuesday.
Israel wraps up its group games against Ukraine on Wednesday, but the contest is completely meaningless for the blue- and-white after the loss to Georgia saw it fall to a 1-3 record and left it without any hope of finishing in the top four in the group and progressing to the last 16 in Istanbul, Turkey.
Omri Casspi’s basket with 6.2 seconds to play in regulation forced overtime, but Georgia would outscore the blue-and- white 15-2 in the extra five minutes to break local hearts.
Gal Mekel had 23 points for Israel, with Richard Howell adding 19 points and Casspi contributing 16 points.
“We hoped to do something special this summer and this is very disappointing,” said Casspi.
Tornike Shengelia had 25 points and 19 rebounds for Georgia.
Howell picked up where he left off in the win over Germany, scoring five of Israel’s first seven points to give the hosts an early lead.
Georgia was never too far behind though, never leading in the first quarter but trailing by just a single point (22-21) at the end the period. the second frame was a similar story, with Oz Blayzer’s dunk opening a nine-point advantage for Israel (42-33), only for shengelia to bring the visitors within two points (49- 47) at the break.
After being outplayed in the third quarter in its previous three games, Israel paid special attention to the way it opened the second half on Tuesday. It worked, with Omri Casspi’s layup opening a double-digit (63-53) cushion for the first time in the game midway through the quarter.
The hosts couldn’t capitalize on the momentum though, with Georgia scoring nine of the first 12 points of the period to cut the deficit to just three points (70- 67) with 10 minutes to play.
Howell spent several minutes being treated in the dressing room during the third frame after receiving a blow to the head. There was some concern he may have suffered a concussion, but he returned to the court and helped Israel maintain a slender margin at the start of the fourth quarter.
He couldn’t do it all himself though, with Manuchar Markoishvili’s three-pointer giving Georgia a four-point gap (83-79) with four minutes to play. Howell fouled out soon after, but the game remained wide open. a Gal Mekel lay-up with just over a minute left on the clock moved Israel back in front (87- 86) and the teams traded turnovers in the next three possessions. Casspi had a chance to extend Israel’s lead, but was blocked by shengelia and dixon put Georgia back ahead with his three. Casspi ensured the game would go to overtime though, driving to the basket to tie the score with 6.2 seconds to play and then blocking Zaza p achulia at the buzzer.
But Georgia would dominate the extra period, leaving Israel to mull over all that went so wrong.
Israel knew before the start of t ues- day’s game that it would have to win its remaining two contests to reach the next round after Germany defeated Italy 61-55 earlier the day. Germany improved to 3-1 thanks to a 12-2 run in the fourth quarter that opened a 12-point gap (59- 47) from which Italy could not return. Dennis Schroder led Germany with 17 points, with Ariel Filloy scoring 15 points for Italy, which fell to 2-2.