Israel- Montenegro game 370.
(photo credit: Israel Basketball Association)
Israel will be confident of getting its EuroBasket 2013 qualifying campaign up
and running when it hosts Estonia in Rishon Lezion on Saturday night after
dropping to a dejecting defeat to Montenegro in its Group A opener on
The national team seemed set for a perfect start to its
10-game qualifying campaign when it held an eight-point gap over Montenegro in
Podgorica early in the fourth period.
However, Israel coach Arik Shivek
was given plenty to mull over after his players lost their head in the closing
stages to lose to their main rivals for second position in the
Perennial powerhouse Serbia is the firm favorite to win the group,
which also includes the weaker Slovakia, Estonia and Iceland.
The top two
teams from the six qualifying groups and the four best third-placed teams will
make up the 16 sides who will join Spain, France, Russia, FYR of Macedonia,
Lithuania, Greece, Great Britain and the hosts Slovenia in EuroBasket
“I’m disappointed with the defeat to Montenegro.
shots we usually make, but that is basketball,” Shivek said on
“We have to look at the big picture and remember that this is
just a single defeat in a 10-game campaign.”
Estonia hasn’t reached the
European Championships since 2001, but it thrashed Slovakia 95-74 in its first
qualifier on Wednesday behind 16 points and 11 rebounds from Janar Talts, who
plays for Italy’s Varese, with the Estonians second star, Montepaschi Siena
forward, Kangur Kristjan, adding 15 points.
“We should have beaten
Montenegro, we were the better team,” said Omri Casspi, who had 17 points and
eight rebounds in Wednesday’s loss.
“We were not overconfident. It was
our first qualifier of the campaign and it was on the road.
“We will need
to continue to work on our game.
“We face a tough game on
"Estonia won by 21 points and we will have to take the game to
“We are going to need the support of the crowd on Saturday,
especially as we are playing in Rishon and not at Nokia Arena.”