shay doron 298.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Despite a valiant effort, Israel was edged 81-76 by Belarus in its first game of the EuroBasket tournament in Latvia on Sunday.
After an excellent first half the national team took an eight point margin (38-30) into the break against a team which finished the last European Championships in third position.
However, the Israeli women would eventually come up just short, with Belarus seizing control of the encounter in the second half to claim an important win in its tournament opener.
"This could have been an amazing achievement, but we didn't win," Israel coach Eli Rabi said. "We had the lead at the break, but we just weren't the same in the second half. Now we need to prepare for Monday's game against Italy, which we simply have to win."
Israel faces Italy in its second game in Group D on Monday and will play France in its final group game the following day.
The top three teams in each of the four groups will advance to the second round.
Shay Doron scored 26 points for Israel, with Katia Levitsky adding 19 points and 12 rebounds, and Liron Cohen contributing 17 points.
Tatiana Troina, who played for Ramat Hasharon last season, led Belarus with 16 points.
The national team began the game superbly, opening a 15-7 lead thanks to a 10-2 run, which was capped by a Doron jumper.
Nataliya Trafimava tied the score for Belarus (25-25) with a three-pointer with just under four minutes played in the second quarter.
Israel answered back with a 7-0 run to regain the lead and was ahead 38-30 at the break after Liad Suez Karni beat the halftime buzzer.
A Karni three increased the national team's cushion to 10 points (44-34), but nothing would go Israel's way after that.
Belarus took the lead with a 11-0 run, capped by a Troina basket, and led 52-48 with 10 minutes to play.
The game remained tight in the fourth period, with Liron Cohen's three tying the score at 57-57.
However, Belarus maintained a slender margin throughout the quarter and held off a late Israel run to begin the championships on the right foot.