The Israel National Basketball Team’s dream of featuring at the 2024 Paris Games came to an end on Friday night as the blue-and-white fell to Bosnia and Herzegovina 86-77 in Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament action in Gliwice, Poland.
Head coach Ariel Beit Halachmi’s team had finished in first place in round robin group play with a 2-1 record in Tallinn, Estonia to the pleasant surprise to many as his squad did not have many of the nation’s regulars including Washington Wizards forward Deni Avdija. However, in the semifinals Israel just came up short against a tough squad with veteran NBA experience that the young blue-and-white side could not overcome.
Israel raced out to a quick 8-0 lead to begin the game stunning the Bosnians, but Portland Trailblazers center Jusuf Turkic proved to be too much for Roman Sorkin and the rest of Beit Halachmi’s team to handle as they headed into halftime down 36-33. The second half saw the Bosnians control the boards while Minnesota Timberwolves big man Luka Garza and Real Madrid swingman Dzanan Musa were too much for Yam Madar, Oz Blayzer and Sorkin to handle as Israel was eliminated from Olympic contention.
Sorkin led the way with 28 points, Madar added 24 points and Blayzer chipped in with 17 points in the loss. Garza paced the doctors with 24 points and 11 rebounds, Nurkic also recorded a double-double with 20 points and 14 boards while Musa scored 20 points in the win that will see Bosnia face Poland for a place in the Olympic qualifying competition next summer.
'We really believed that we could do it'
“This was a tough loss because we really believed that we could do it and we were close,” Beit Halachmi said. “Ultimately their physicality decided the game. The guys gave it their all and it was a difficult game but I have to acknowledge that the better team won. I am very happy as to how this last month went and I want to thank all of the players that were here with us from the start of training camp to the ones that were here for the tournament. They deserve a lot of credit.”
Roman Sorkin also reflected on the game, “We played really hard all the way to the final minute. We’re not happy because we thought we could do it and make it further. I hope that in the future we will meet our goals.”