Blue-and-white limps home after subpar warm-up weekend

Mac TA's Lior Eliyahu was Israel’s most consistent player in this weekend’s EuroBasket warm-up event in Cyprus, averaging 16.7 points in three games.

Lior Eliyahu 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Lior Eliyahu 311
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Israel coach Arik Shivek admitted that he has plenty to ponder after the national team suffered its second defeat in three days on Sunday, losing 88-82 to Bulgaria in a EuroBasket warm-up event in Cyprus.
The blue-and-white was without four key players in Cyprus, with Omri Casspi missing due to a stomach virus, Yotam Halperin and Tal Burstein remaining in Israel for personal reasons and David Blu being given special permission to only join the team this week.
However, Shivek was still bitterly disappointed with Sunday’s performance against the Bulgarians, which came on the back of a 67-66 defeat to Greece on Saturday and a 65-58 victory over Poland on Friday.
“We didn’t play well today,” Shivek said. “We failed at a lot of basic things.
This is our third preparation game and we certainly were given a lot to think about. We were very poor in defense and we will have to continue to work hard.
“There’s no hiding from the fact that we looked bad but we must remember that this is just a warm-up tournament.”
Israel led by as many as 10 points in the second quarter (37-27), but the Bulgarians ended the first half with an 11- 1 run to tie the scored at 38-38.
The second half remained tight throughout, with Yogev Ohayon drawing Israel level at 82-82 with 40 seconds to play.
However, 20 seconds later Ohayon turned over the ball from an inbounds pass and the Bulgarians claimed the win.
Guy Pnini scored 18 points for Israel, with Lior Eliyahu adding 17.
Eliyahu led the national team in scoring in the first two games of the tournament, netting 19 points against Poland and 14 against the Greeks, who claimed a dramatic win thanks to Konstantinos Kaimakoglou’s three-point play with less than three second to play.
The blue-and-white returned to Israel on Sunday night, but it will be back in transit on Thursday when it travels to Holland for its second warm-up event of the summer.
Israel will take on American college outfit Villanova on Friday before facing the Georgian national team on Saturday and the Netherlands on Sunday.
The national team will then fly to Tbilisi to play Georgia once more before hosting Poland and David Blatt’s Russia at the Nokia Arena from August 22-24 in its final tune-up event ahead of the start of the European Championships.
Israel will face Germany in its EuroBasket Group B opener on August 31 before facing Latvia the following day. It will then play Serbia on September 2 and France two days later before wrapping up its group games against Italy on September 5.
Only the top three teams in each group will advance to the last 12.