For the second time in less than 24 hours, Israel found itself completely out of
its depth at the EuroBasket tournament, falling to an 85-68 defeat to France in
Siauliai, Lithuania, on Thursday evening.
Just like in Wednesday night’s
opener against Germany, Israel had all but lost the encounter early into the
second half, looking helpless against a team clearly superior in every facet of
Despite trailing by 10 points after 10 minutes (24-14), the
blue-andwhite came back to take the lead in the second period (35-34), only to
see France go on an 18-0 run and all but clinch the victory at the start of the
Lior Eliyahu and Yotam Halperin scored 15 points each for
Israel, with David Blu adding 14. However, for a second straight night, Israel
shot just 41 percent from the field (23 of 56) and was humbly outrebounded
San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker had 21 points and eight
assists for France, with Nicolas Batum contributing 15 points and six
“We began the game well, controlling the pace and not allowing
Parker to score in the open court,” Israel coach Arik Shivek
“However, in the last minute-and-ahalf of the second period we lost
our composure and good teams only need a few minutes to win the game.
Unfortunately, we lost our focus and from that moment we struggled to come
Perhaps the most worrying part for Israel after being outplayed in
two straight games is the fact that it faces what is considered to be the best
team in the group in Serbia on Friday afternoon.
“For me Serbia is the
strongest team in the group,” Shivek said. “We are facing a really tough
encounter, but as long as we have any chance we will fight.
the time to start trying to explain what has happened so far.
We need to
just focus on our next game. I had hoped some things would look different and
there are things we can improve on, but our opponents are forcing their style of
play on us.”
Serbia enters Friday’s game with a 2-0 record after beating
Latvia 92-77 on Thursday.
Serbia began the game with a 19-2 run, and
despite allowing Latvia back into the contest, cruised to the victory in the
Nenad Krstic led Serbia with 23 points, with Rolands
Freimanis scoring 19 points for Latvia, which plays Israel on
“Israel is a very experienced team,” Serbia coach Dusan Ivkovic
“They have wonderful guards who can shoot well and also control the
game. We have a big advantage under the baskets and we hope to make the most of
It took Israel almost three minutes to score its first points
against France, but Guy Pnini’s three-pointer brought the blue-and-white within
a single point (4-3).
However, it wouldn’t be long before the French
surged ahead, taking advantage of careless Israel turnovers.
three-point play opened a 14-6 margin and Parker’s triple to end the first
quarter gave France a double-digit gap (24-14) after 10 minutes.
De Colo three 90 seconds into the second quarter increased France’s lead to
28-14, but just when it seemed that the national team was heading to another
humiliating defeat, the blue-and-white mounted an unexpected comeback.
all started with a Shivek time-out after which Israel went on a 13-0 run, with
Eliyahu’s basket closing the gap to a single point (28-27) with 5:30 to play in
the first half.
A Blu three with two minutes remaining in the quarter
completed the comeback, giving Israel a 35-34 advantage, but France would end
the half with an 8-0 push.
Joakim Noah led the way for France, scoring
the final five points of the period to give Les Bleus a seven-point lead (42-35)
at the break.
Israel’s barren run continued at the start of the second
half and France didn’t take long to open an unassailable margin.
doing as he pleased under the basket while Batum and Parker sliced the Israel
defense at will, and after four third period minutes, the French had a 17-point
Halperin finally scored Israel’s first points of the
half after more than four-and-a-half minutes, but it was too little too late,
with France taking a 16-point gap into the fourth quarter and cruising in the
final 10 minutes.