Eurobasket 2011: Three games, three losses for Israel

Team now faces Latvia in Siauliai, Lithuania.

September 4, 2011 08:19
3 minute read.
Hapoel Jerusalem

Basketball 58. (photo credit: BSL website)

After losing any realistic hope of advancing to the second round of the European Championships, Israel faces Latvia in Siauliai, Lithuania, on Sunday afternoon, looking for a moral-boosting win after three straight defeats.

Israel gave the strong Serbia a real run for its money on Friday, leading by 12 points in the third period (53-41).

However, it ran out of gas in the final minutes, eventually losing 89-80 to fall to 0-3 in Group B.

The national team was once again dominated under the baskets, getting outrebounded 45-27, but it significantly improved its scoring from the first two games and gave its all before succumbing to a superior side.

“We played almost perfectly, but something happened in the fourth quarter,” Israel coach Arik Shivek said. “They started hitting their threepointers and we gave them too much space.

“We know we have lost any chance of progressing, but we will do our best to win the remaining games.”

Yotam Halperin led Israel with 18 points, with David Blu and Afik Nissim scoring 16 points each and Lior Eliyahu adding 14.

“All the players deserve credit for playing like this after two tough defeats to France and Germany,” said Nissim, who also dished out nine assists.

“We have two more games to play and we must try our best.” Dusko Savanovic had 24 points and seven rebounds for Serbia, with Nenad Krstic contributing 18 points and seven rebounds.

Latvia will also be entering Sunday’s game still searching for its first win of the EuroBasket tournament after losing 71-62 to Italy on Friday.

Richard Kuksiks scored 19 points for Latvia, with Italy’s Andrea Bargnani unstoppable with 36 points.

Earlier Friday, Israel got off to an encouraging start, scoring seven of the first eight points of the afternoon.

However, Nemanja Bjelica’s basket to end the first period brought the Serbians within three points (25-22) and four straight points by Maccabi Tel Aviv center Milan Macvan gave Dusan Ivkovic’s side a 29-27 advantage.

But unlike in its first two games, Israel wouldn’t fold at the first sign of trouble and a 12-0 run would give the blueand- white the lead at the break.

Two straight Blu threes were followed by a Nissim steal and layup and Israel held a 10- point gap (41-31) with 3:45 to play in the first half.

But the national team wouldn’t score another point in the second period and took a 41-35 lead into the interval after missing some easy chances to put points on the board.

A Nissim triple at the start of the second half opened a record 12-point gap (53-41), but Serbia never lost touch and Israel needed two Eliyahu baskets to take a 64-58 advantage into the fourth quarter.

Shivek’s side was running on fumes for much of the final period and Stefan Markovic’s triple three minutes into the frame tied the score at 64-64.

It took Israel more than three minutes to score its first points of the period, but Blu’s three put the blue-and-white back in the lead (67-64).

Serbia pulled ahead almost immediately, but Nissim’s three-point play with 2:28 remaining brought Israel within touching distance (77-76).

However, the Serbs would score the next seven points, with Savanovic’s three opening an eight-point gap (84- 76) with one minute to play from which Israel would not come back.

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