Israel defeats Canada to advance to semis

Squad qualified for the last semifinal spot in the group over third place Greece.

Amar’e Stoudemire 370 (photo credit: Sammy Hudes)
Amar’e Stoudemire 370
(photo credit: Sammy Hudes)
Israel’s open male basketball team advanced to the Maccabiah semifinals by defeating Canada 110-75 on Friday.
With the victory, Israel closed out the preliminary round with a 3-1 record, as the squad qualified for the last semifinal spot in the group over third place Greece (2- 2).
The Israelis rebounded from their narrow loss the previous day against France (4-0) by a score of 69-67.
Head coach Sharon Drucker said he was impressed with his team’s effort in the victory.
“We acted very well after the loss of yesterday,” Drucker said.
“We came here today to go to final four, the semifinal, and we did a very good job. I think our young guys, every minute, every game for them is a gift.
Now we have to try two more games to be better and to be the best and I hope we can do a good job.”
Israeli power forward Or Solomon, who finished the game with 17 points including three high-powered dunks, said energy was the difference for the team against Canada.
Israel, which finished second in Group B, will now face the United States, which finished first in Group A, on Sunday.
Solomon said the team will have to quickly regroup in order to be ready.
“We’ve got two days to learn them but from what I heard [they’re] a really strong team, they’ve got really good college players,” he said. “We need to [find] the same energy [from] today and get it started in the semifinal.”
The Israelis were led in scoring by Tomer Girat, who had 18 points in the match, while Canadian Morgan Tajfel picked up a game-high 24 points.
Tajfel felt the Israeli team’s familiarity with one another played a factor in their success against Canada.
“We worked hard, we played pretty well, I think they’ve just got a lot of chemistry on their team,” Tajfel said.
“[They have] great passers, they knew where to be in the right spots. It’s tough to keep up with them for 40 minutes.”
The Canadians, who finished third in Group B with a 1-3 record, will now move on to the consolation bracket to compete for the fifth spot overall in the tournament.
Canada’s assistant coach and NBA star Amar’e Stoudemire said that in order for the team be successful, they must continue to focus on playing a more well-rounded game.
“We just got to play hard,” Stoudemire said. “That’s the main goal for us, is to play hard and just really focus on both ends of the court and have fun. If we do that we have a great chance to win.”