(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
After all but booking its place at next summer’s European Championships, Israel
visits Serbia on Tuesday night looking to lock-up second place in Group A and a
favorable draw at EuroBasket 2013.
The national team has yet to
officially secure its progress to an 11th straight European Championships, but
for Israel not to make it to the tournament in Slovenia it will need to lose in
Belgrade by 89 points or more, assuming Estonia also beats
Nevertheless, the blue-andwhite will be hoping to end its rocky
qualifying campaign on a high and make a statement with a win on the road
against a perennial powerhouse.
A victory in Belgrade will of course
clinch second place for Israel, but should Estonia also triumph on Tuesday as
expected, the blue-and-white can afford to lose to Serbia by 18 points and still
advance from the runners-up position.
A loss by more than 18 points and
less than 89 will see Israel progress as one of the four-best third-placed
“We are in a good position, but we want to end the campaign in
a good way,” said Israel coach Arik Shivek. “We are going to face a team in
trouble, but this is a good team with a decorated coach.
If they lose to
us, the great Serbia might miss the European Championships, which in European
basketball terms is almost like an earthquake.
“We will need to cope with
the pressure and considering their situation it is going to be a real sporting
A Serbia loss combined with an Estonia win will mean the
three-time winners will miss out on the EuroBasket tournament for the first time
since the split of Yugoslavia.
“We can win in Serbia, even though this
game has become really significant for them,” said Israel forward Lior Eliyahu,
who has recorded at least a double-double in the last three games, registering a
triple-double against Slovakia on Saturday.
“They will hit the ground
running and it won’t be easy to play there. Nevertheless, we are entering the
game with the goal of winning it.”