Euro Basketball: Israel gets past Bosnia in qualifier

67-60 victory sets up head-to-head battle with Macedonia on Friday for 16th, final spot in the upcoming EuroBasket Championship.

tapiro hapoel 88 (photo credit: )
tapiro hapoel 88
(photo credit: )
Israel's national basketball team defeated Bosnia and Herzegovina 67-60 on Thursday night in Menorca, Spain, to set up a head-to-head battle with Macedonia on Friday for the 16th and final spot in the upcoming EuroBasket championships. Amit Tamir had one of his best games in an Israeli uniform, scoring a team-high 15 points in 20 minutes off the bench. Ido Kozikaro and Jeron Roberts added 11 each, while Meir Tapiro had eight points and six assists. Bosnia, whose star forward Jasmin Hukic, formerly with Hapoel Tel Aviv, sat out with an injury, got 17 from Mirza Teletovic and 13 from American-born guard Terrell Castle. Either Macedonia, which defeated Bosnia 73-63 on Wednesday, or Israel will advance from the finals of the Additional Qualifying Tournament to join European champion Greece, David Blatt's Russia and Serbia in Group A of the EuroBasket championships which begin next week. Israel has played in each European basketball championships since 1993, finishing as high as seventh in Sweden four years ago. On Thursday, Israel came out firing, with the trio of perimeter starters, Yotam Halperin, Tapiro and Roberts combining for 15 points during a 16-0 blitz that put the blue-and-white squad ahead 20-5 midway through the first quarter. Israel led 23-7 after 10 minutes, but Bosnia never quit, as Teletovic and Castle led their team back. Sasa Vasiljevic connected on his only points of the game from the free-throw line in the final minute of the half to get Bosnia to 38-34 at halftime. Tapiro took over the playmaking responsibilities in the third quarter and made feeds to Yaniv Green and Kozikaro as Israel rebuilt its lead to 46-37, but a Teletovic triple and a pair of Elmedin Kikanovic dunks tied the score. Kozikaro and Tamir kept Israel ahead 54-49 entering the final period. Tamir added a three to start the fourth quarter and Israel never looked back. Israel and Macedonia know each other fairly well after splitting a pair of meetings last September. The Macedonians' top players are guards Vlado Ilievski and Vrbica Stefanov and American-born forward Mike Wilkinson (known as Majkl Vilkinson in his Macedonian passport).