Blue-and-white gifted favorable Eurobasket group

Arik Shivek, Omri Casspi learn who they will face with the national team in next summer's EuroBasket tournament.

ARIK SHIVEK 390 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Israel coach Arik Shivek was cautiously optimistic of the national team’s chances at next summer’s EuroBasket tournament after the blue-and-white was handed a relatively comfortable draw on Sunday.
Israel will face France, the runner-up from 2011, as well as Germany, Great Britain, Belgium and Ukraine in Group A, which will be played in Ljubljana, Slovenia, next September.
The national team was placed in the sixth and last seeding pot for Sunday’s draw, which took place more than 80 meters into the Slovenian underground in the Postojna Cave Concert Hall.
The top three teams from each group will progress to the second round.
“There are no easy draws in the European Championships, but there is no team in our group that we can’t compete with,” said Shivek. “Our goal is to advance to the next stage and also beat one of the teams that will progress with us so that we enter the second round with a win to our name.”
Israel qualified for its 11th straight EuroBasket tournament two months ago after finishing second in its group with a 6-4 record Shivek’s side failed to progress past the first round in its last EuroBasket campaign, finishing Group B in fourth position with a 2-3 record.
The national team lost any hope of a top-three finish and a place in the top 12 after losing its first three games in Lithuania to Germany, France and Serbia.
However, wins against Latvia and Italy ensured that Israel ended the European Championships on a positive note after losing its first three games by an average 17.7 points.
Israel hasn’t advanced past the first round in a EuroBasket tournament since 2003 when it finished in seventh place. The championships increased from 16 to 24 teams ahead of EuroBasket 2011.
In other groups, defending champion and Olympic silver medalist Spain will play host Slovenia in Group C, as well as Croatia, Czech Republic, Poland and Georgia.
Group B will consist of F.Y.R. of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia as well as Lithuania and Latvia, while Group D will be contested between Russia, Greece, Italy, Finland, Turkey and Sweden.