Israel needs a big European win

Israel's hopes of qualification lay in the lastchance tournament next summer.

jamie arnold 298.88 (photo credit: Associated Press)
jamie arnold 298.88
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Israel will be looking for an astronomical win in its final EuroBasket 2007 qualifier on Saturday night when it faces Portugal in Lisbon. The team still has a tiny chance of booking an automatic spot in the European championships, but will need several improbabilities to occur for that to happen. Israel has to win its match in Portugal by 32 more points than the margin of victory that Bosnia-Herzegovina achieves against Macedonia. That is assuming that Bosnia does beat the Macedonians, because if they don't Israel will lose any chance of finishing first regardless of its result against the Portuguese. The blue-and-white could also qualify from the second spot in the group as one of the best runners-up but that is highly unlikely as the team needs to win its game by more than seven points and for several results in other groups to go its way. Realistically, Israel's hopes of qualification lay in the lastchance tournament next summer from which one more team will advance to the championships. Israel reached the last EuroBasket from a last chance tournament and will be confident of doing so again with the return of injured guards Tal Burstein and Meir Tapiro. Regardless of whether the team qualifies, Israel will look to continue its good form from the match against Bosnia on Wednesday. For the first time in the campaign Israel won convincingly, grabbing an early lead and controlling the entire game. "It's a pity we didn't win by a bigger margin," Yotam Halperin said after his team's 13 point win over the Bosnians. "Nevertheless, we are pleased with the win and we are looking forward to the game against Portugal." The national team lost 67-61 to Portugal in its "home" match in Sofia and will have a difficult time winning on Saturday not to mention thrashing its opponents by more than 32 points.