(photo credit: FIBA EUROPE)
Israel coach Arik Shivek was in a confident mood ahead of his team’s flight to
Lithuania on Monday morning as it enters the final stretch of its preparations
for the European Championships, which get underway on Wednesday.
national team faces Germany in its Group B opener in Siauliai on Wednesday night
and Shivek feels his side is as ready as it will ever be for the tough
“We have had some ups and downs in our preparations,
but we have come through that and we have played much better in recent weeks,”
said Shivek, who was surely boosted by his team’s 89-79 win over the strong
Russians in its final warm-up game before the championships last
“We have gelled into a united and fighting team which has a lot of
motivation to achieve success. We are aware of our weaknesses, but our
togetherness makes up for a lot of things.”
Israel flew out to Lithuania
without its star player Omri Casspi, who is missing through injury, but guard
Tal Burstein is optimistic that the roster has enough quality to succeed even
without the Cleveland Cavaliers forward.
“Omri is an important player for
the team, but we have come to terms with his absence and we still have high
expectations from ourselves,” Burstein said.
“We are determined to do
well and the win against Russia gave us confidence that we can compete against
the top teams. We are always underdogs, but that is how we like it. We might not
have big stars, but we have talent and brains and we believe in
A day after playing NBA finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki and Germany,
Israel will face France before coming up against Serbia on Friday.
a day of rest, the blueand- white plays Latvia and wraps up its group games
against Italy next Monday.
Only the top three teams in the group will
advance to the last 12.