Basketball team returns from Slovakia after improving record to 2-2 in EuroBasket 2013 qualification.
By ALLON SINAI
The Israel national team returned home from Slovakia on Saturday after improving to a 2-2 record in EuroBasket 2013 qualification the previous night. However, the only thing on the players’ mind were this week’s crucial games against Serbia and Montenegro.The blue-and-white opened a seven-point gap against the weakest team in Group A by the end of the first quarter and cruised after that to climb to third place in the standings after beginning its 10-game campaign with two straight defeats.Alex Tyus led the national team with 18 points (9-of-9 from the field) and seven rebounds in just 18 minutes on court, while Lior Eliyahu added 14 points, playing a team-high 22 minutes.The level of the hosts allowed Israel coach Arik Shivek to rest his starters on Friday to make sure they will be in ideal condition for the decisive games against Serbia and Montenegro at Nokia Arena on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.“Our target was to claim two wins on this road trip and we did that very convincingly,” Shivek said upon the team’s arrival at Ben- Gurion Airport. “We are facing 10 critical days if you also take into account the game at Estonia and we are hoping for a full Nokia this week to help push us to the win.”Captain Yotam Halperin was pleased with the team’s play in Iceland and Slovakia and once more stressed that there are no rifts in the roster.“Our fate is still in our hands. This is not impossible,” said Halperin. “The media blew things out of proportion because we were always a team and always loved each other. We suffered a tough loss to Estonia, but we gelled in this trip and enjoyed ourselves.”
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