casspi montenegro 311.
(photo credit: FIBA EUROPE Web site))
After an erratic, but largely impressive campaign, Israel faces Montenegro for
first place in Group A in its final EuroBasket 2011 qualifier in Podgorica on
Israel’s women’s team also has its fate in its own hands –
needing a victory over Romania at Zisman Arena in Ramat Gan on Sunday evening to
book its place in next summer’s European Championships.
A victory against
Montenegro will guarantee the men’s national team a 10th straight participation
in the European Championships, but a slender defeat will likely also see the
side advance, with Israel’s current point differential of +78 putting it in pole
position to at least finish among the two best runners-up.
one on the Israel team wants to rely on favors from other groups, and coach Arik
Shivek is confident his side can book its place in next summer’s championships
in Lithuania without complications.
“Our advantage over most teams is our
athleticism, speed and versatile game,” said Shivek, whose team beat Montenegro
77-73 at Nokia Arena two weeks ago.
“We made the most of our strengths
against Montenegro in Tel Aviv, but we will face a tough time on Sunday. I told
the players we’ve had an excellent campaign so far and we now need to end it
with a victory at Montenegro.”
Omri Casspi led the blue-and-white to its
triumph over Montenegro almost singlehandedly, scoring 30 points, including four
of seven from threepoint range.
However, the Sacramento Kings forward is
entering Sunday’s encounter on the back end of his worst performance of the
campaign. He scored eight points – his lowest total in any of the qualifiers –
on two of 10 from the field, while grabbing just three rebounds, in Israel’s
85-71 victory over Finland on Thursday.
“We are facing a very difficult
game because they also need to win to finish in first position,” Casspi said.
“We hope to dictate our style of play on the game.
We will all have to
excel, the same way we would at the EuroBasket tournament.
We are hoping
to win or at least record a result which will secure our place in the European
Montenegro is coming off its second loss of the campaign
after falling 72-71 to Italy on Thursday. However, the Montenegrins are a
perfect 3-0 at home, winning by an average 19.7 points per game in
“It will be very difficult to win in Montenegro, but that is
our goal,” Israel center Yaniv Green said. “Montenegro will be desperate to win
after its defeat to Italy and it will be a war. We don’t want to find ourselves
needing favors from other groups, so we must win this game.”
women should have a simpler task when they host rock-bottom Romania at Zisman on
Despite Thursday’s heartbreaking double overtime defeat to
Latvia, Eli Rabi’s side will be optimistic of advancing to a third straight
EuroBasket tournament with a victory over the winless Romanians.
stage did we think we had already progressed,” said Rabi, whose team began the
campaign with three straight wins before losing its last two encounters. “We
prepared ourselves for a long and arduous campaign and we know it isn’t over
until it’s over. Everyone understands the importance of this game and we will
give everything against Romania.”