Jamie Arnold 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Israel's national basketball team lost any realistic chance of qualifying automatically for Eurobasket 2007 after falling 85-63 to Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo on Saturday night.
The loss was Israel's third in a row and the team will now likely need to play in a last chance tournament for a second straight campaign, in order to qualify for the European championships.
Only the top team in each of the four qualifying groups and the two best second-placed sides automatically advance. The remaining 10 teams will play in a tournament next summer from which only one more squad will get a place in Eurobasket 2007.
The Bosnians had previously lost all three of their qualifying games and the visit from Israel was just what they needed to break out of their slide.
The blue-and-white were poor in every aspect of the game and were eventually run off the court by the hosts. Israel could not pass the 63-point mark for a second straight game and allowed its opponents to score more than 81 points for a third time in four qualifiers.
Jamie Arnold led Israeli scorers with 25 points and also grabbed seven rebounds.
Five players scored in double figures for the Bosnians with Ermin Jazvin leading the team with 17 points.
After Israel allowed the hosts to open the game with a 9-0 run, Arnold scored five straight points. However, the hosts soon regained their momentum and ended the quarter with a 23-13 lead.
The Bosnians maintained a comfortable lead in the second period with Israel only managing to come as close as six points.
Israel did at least improve on the offensive side of the court, scoring 10 more points than it did in the first period. However, the team could do nothing on defense to slow down the hosts and the Bosnians' lead from the first period stayed intact.
Amit Tamir contributed 10 points in the quarter and his three-pointer with two minutes to go in the half cut the gap to six. Israel couldn't build on Tamir's performance and the half ended in a 45-36 Bosnian lead.
Things went from bad to worse for Israel in the third quarter as the hosts further increased their lead.
An Arnold jump shot with four minutes left in the quarter put Israel within six points of the Bosnians, but from there onwards everything went down hill.
The hosts went on a 10-3 quarter-ending run to increase their lead to 63-50 and effectively ending any hopes Israel had of making a fourth-quarter comeback.
The final period was a complete nightmare for Israel as their deficit continued to grow until the final whistle.
The team never managed any kind of late comeback and the hosts strolled to a 22-point win which eclipsed Israel's seven-point win in their first qualifying game.
In the other Group B game Saturday night, Macedonia beat previously undefeated Portugal 83-63 and took over first place on point-differential.