Yaniv Green 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
After more than three weeks abroad, Israel returned home from the EuroBasket championships on Wednesday afternoon with mixed feelings about the tournament.
The national team was knocked out of the European Championships on Tuesday night, losing 99-73 to host and world champion Spain, but will nevertheless be pleased with its overall performance this summer.
Israel won nine of its 14 games over a 35 day span, qualifying for the European Championships via the last-chance tournament and eventually finishing among the top 12 in the event, thanks to a shock win over Serbia.
"We very much wanted to qualify for the quarterfinals, but to surprise and beat the hosts was never going to be easy," Israel coach Tzvika Sherf said.
Israel led for almost the entire first half of its game against Spain and was only down six points after three quarters. The team, however, fell to pieces in the fourth period, with the hosts outscoring Israel 25-5 in the final 10 minutes and running away with the win.
Meir Tapiro, Lior Eliyahu and Matan Naor each scored 15 points for Israel, with NBA all-star Pau Gasol leading the Spaniards with 26 points and seven rebounds.
"We started great. Even we didn't expect to lead by so many points against Spain," Israel center Ido Kozikaro said. "In the last quarter, however, they were much better and took over the game. We showed everybody that we can match the world champions. Spain is the best team here, and for more than 25 minutes we were in the game. It shows how well we can play. We had a great tournament. It was very sweet to make it here, and the wins over Croatia and Serbia put Israel back on the map."