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Israel crashed to a 75-43 loss to defending champion the Czech Republic in its first game of EuroBasket 2007 in Vasto, Italy on Monday night.
The national team, which is playing in the European Championships for the fourth time in its history, was predictably outplayed by the superior opponent. Israel struggled on offense against the big Czechs, scoring an abysmal 27 percent from the field.
"The Czechs have an outstanding team, but we shouldn't lose in such a way," Israel coach Eli Rabi said. "I'm an optimistic man and hopefully we can improve and play differently tomorrow."
Despite the big loss, Israel still has a good chance of qualifying for the second round of the tournament.
The team faces Latvia on Tuesday in its second game of Group A and will play Turkey in its final game of the first round on Wednesday.
Latvia defeated Turkey 73-62 in the first game of Group A on Monday. The three top teams in the group advance to the second round, meaning a single win could well be enough for the blue-and-white to progress.
"We must take advantage of this opportunity and progress to the second round," Rabi said. "It's very important we enter the game against Latvia in a positive state of mind. The girls haven't disappointed me so far and I hope we will look better on Tuesday."
Israel, which reached the EuroBasket championship by finishing first in the additional qualifying tournament by basket differential, was led by Liron Cohen who scored 16 points.
Shay Doron was the blue-and-white's only other player to end the game in double figures, scoring 10 points. Eva Viteckova led the Czechs with 16 points, with Edita Sujanova and Petra Kulichova adding 12 and 10 points respectively.
Cohen gave Israel its only lead of the game a minute into the encounter, but a minute later Viteckova scored the first of her 12 points in the first half and gave the Czechs the lead.
Jana Vesela's three pointer with four minutes remaining in the period gave her side a 9-4 lead and two more points by Viteckova later in the quarter extended the champions margin to nine points (17-8).
Israel looked to be in serious trouble, however Cohen's three to beat the buzzer at the end of the first quarter cut the team's deficit to six points (17-11).
The national team carried the momentum into the second period and six straight points by Cohen tied the score at 19-19.
A 16-5 run by the Czechs to end the half put the side in the driving seat once more and Israel trailed 35-24 at the interval.
The Czechs opened the second half with a blitz that all but killed Israel's hopes of claiming a shock win.
Hana Machova's basket from beyond the arc two minutes into the third quarter gave her team a huge 44-26 lead. Israel failed to make any impression on the Czech's lead and Katerina Elhotova gave the defending champion a 54-31 advantage after three periods.
Both coaches rested their stars in the fourth quarter, but the Czechs nevertheless continued to increase their lead, eventually winning by 32 points.
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