Blue-and-white blown out by Belarus

Israeli women drop second straight contest in Bydgoszcz, Poland, falling 68-41 to a Belarus side that just kept on getting stronger as the game went on.

Israeli womens basketball 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli womens basketball 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel’s EuroBasket campaign is off to a somewhat deflating start after the blue-and-white women dropped their second straight contest in Bydgoszcz, Poland, on Sunday, falling 68-41 to a Belarus side that just kept on getting stronger as the game went on.
Eli Rabi’s team dropped its opener on Saturday night to the Czech Republic and now finds the path out of Group B much more complicated.
With the comprehensive, if not completely emphatic, conquest Belarus became the first Group B team to book a place in the second round of the tournament and the World Championship semifinalist will now likely battle it out with the Czechs for top spot in the pool when they meet on Monday evening.
Israel faces Britain on Monday in a must-win game.
“Like yesterday, we had problems with field goal percentage,” exclaimed Rabi. “I don’t feel we could have won the game because Belarus is a very strong team.”
[Against Britain] the money’s on the table. And I hope we play better.”
Indeed, Israel shot just 15-of-58 (26 percent) from the field. Belarus went 26-of-65 (40 percent).
Belarussian head coach Anatoli Buyalski said: “I think today my players knew how to play a game against this Israel team.
We won the rebounds and I think we had better success with mistakes and we had 17 turnovers.”
Even with all the turnovers, all early signs pointed towards a Belarussian cruise when two 7-0 runs in the first quarter sent the group favorite 18-9 in front, its superior size proving tough to handle.
The Israelis have speed on their side and they turned to their strengths, pushing the pace with Shay Doron capping a flurry that put her side within two points midway through the second quarter.
Belarus responded with a 6-0 burst to move 26-18 ahead but for the final 2:27 of the half, neither side could find the basket despite a rush of turnovers at each end.
Israel, paced by 12 points from Liron Cohen, hit six unanswered points in the third period to cut the gap to 34-27 but could come no closer.
The turning point of the contest was when Tatsiana Likharovich ignited a 7-0 run in the third period that put Belarus 41-28 in front and broke Israel’s resistance.
Cohen put the loss into perspective.
“As a team we made too many mistakes and that’s something we got punished for. Against teams like that, you have to stay focused for 40 minutes. They punished every mistake we made. But tomorrow is a big game. We can change everything with that.”
Belarus guard Natallia Marchanka had 11 points, four assists and three rebounds and was a calming presence in the backcourt for the victors throughout the encounter.
“What can I say? It’s not easy to play Israel and we came into the game remembering our experience in Latvia. I think today a lot of things came our way. We played well under the basket and in rebounding. I want to thank my teammates for wanting to fight first of all and for being strong.”