(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.
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.
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.
know we have lost any chance of progressing, but we will do our best to win the
Yotam Halperin led Israel with 18 points, with David
Blu and Afik Nissim scoring 16 points each and Lior Eliyahu adding
“All the players deserve credit for playing like this after two tough
defeats to France and Germany,” said Nissim, who also dished out nine
“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
Earlier Friday, Israel got off to an encouraging start, scoring
seven of the first eight points of the afternoon.
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.
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.