Shivek’s squad breathing easy ahead of finale

After all but booking its place at next summer’s European Championships, Israel visits Serbia.

Israel EuroBasket (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Israel EuroBasket
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
After all but booking its place at next summer’s European Championships, Israel visits Serbia on Tuesday night looking to lock-up second place in Group A and a favorable draw at EuroBasket 2013.
The national team has yet to officially secure its progress to an 11th straight European Championships, but for Israel not to make it to the tournament in Slovenia it will need to lose in Belgrade by 89 points or more, assuming Estonia also beats Iceland.
Nevertheless, the blue-andwhite will be hoping to end its rocky qualifying campaign on a high and make a statement with a win on the road against a perennial powerhouse.
A victory in Belgrade will of course clinch second place for Israel, but should Estonia also triumph on Tuesday as expected, the blue-and-white can afford to lose to Serbia by 18 points and still advance from the runners-up position.
A loss by more than 18 points and less than 89 will see Israel progress as one of the four-best third-placed finishers.
“We are in a good position, but we want to end the campaign in a good way,” said Israel coach Arik Shivek. “We are going to face a team in trouble, but this is a good team with a decorated coach.
If they lose to us, the great Serbia might miss the European Championships, which in European basketball terms is almost like an earthquake.
“We will need to cope with the pressure and considering their situation it is going to be a real sporting battle.”
A Serbia loss combined with an Estonia win will mean the three-time winners will miss out on the EuroBasket tournament for the first time since the split of Yugoslavia.
“We can win in Serbia, even though this game has become really significant for them,” said Israel forward Lior Eliyahu, who has recorded at least a double-double in the last three games, registering a triple-double against Slovakia on Saturday.
“They will hit the ground running and it won’t be easy to play there. Nevertheless, we are entering the game with the goal of winning it.”