Casspi injury a major setback for blue-and-white vs Europe

Casspi slipped half-an-hour into Wednesday night’s training session at Hadar Yosef Arena in TA, tearing left knee ligaments.

Casspi floored 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Casspi floored 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An apprehensive Israel national team flew out to the Netherlands on Thursday afternoon without star Omri Casspi after the Cleveland Cavaliers forward suffered a knee injury in training on Wednesday, making him doubtful for the EuroBasket tournament.
Casspi slipped half-an-hour into Wednesday night’s training session at Hadar Yosef Arena in Tel Aviv and an MRI revealed that he has a slight tear in his left knee ligaments, which will require complete rest for at least 10 days.
Israel, which will be playing its second warm-up tournament ahead of the European Championships in Almere, Holland this weekend, faces Dirk Nowitzki’s Germany in its EuroBasket Group B opener on August 31.
“It’s still too early to say if I will be able to play in the European Championships, but I’m skeptical,” said Casspi, who led the team in points (16.9 ppg) and minutes (29.3 mpg) in last summer’s qualifying campaign.
“My knee is really painful and we’ll have to take it one day at a time.”
Coach Arik Shivek is determined to focus on his team’s upcoming games against American college outfit Villanova on Friday, Georgia on Saturday and the Netherlands on Sunday, but he too knows that the blue-and-white’s mission in the championships in Lithuania will be all the more difficult without its star player.
“Clearly we only have one Yotam Halperin, one Lior Eliyahu and one Casspi, but we will do our best to prepare for the tournament without him,” Shivek said on Thursday.
“We would be delighted to have Casspi in the championships, but if we don’t we will still play in Lithuania.
Obviously, this is a different team without Casspi.
“If Omri is still in pain in two weeks time he will not play. I hope Casspi will do all he can to get back with the roster as soon as possible.”
Casspi also missed last weekend’s warm-up tournament in Cyprus with a stomach virus, but Shivek has at least got Yotam Halperin, Tal Burstein and David Blu back in the roster and he is hoping to see a significant improvement in his side’s performance.
“We have had some good training sessions in recent days and I hope that shows in the games,” Shivek said. “We haven’t got long before the EuroBasket and we need to make sure we keep improving and peak at the championships.”