With or without Casspi, Israel is perfect in warmups

Team beat Belgium 69-64; to play Italy in next EuroBasket opener.

omri casspi 311 (photo credit: AP)
omri casspi 311
(photo credit: AP)
Even without Omri Casspi in its lineup, Israel completed a perfect week of warm-up games on Wednesday night, beating Belgium 69-64 at Hadar Yosef Arena for its third win in as many days.
Israel visits Italy next Monday in its EuroBasket qualifying opener and will be doing so on a high after claiming three straight victories.
Casspi was Israel’s best player in its two previous preparation games. The Sacramento Kings forward scored 17 points in the blue-and-white’s 96-82 victory over the Netherlands on Monday and led the national team once more 24 hours later, scoring 27 points in the 86-82 win over Great Britain.
Israel’s first and only NBA player, who only joined the national team in training last Thursday after participating in NBA summer workouts in Las Vegas, rested on Wednesday after an intense week full of games.
His presence was missed in the first half as Israel trailed throughout. But the blue-and-white eventually clinched the win thanks to some excellent defensive play after halftime.
The Belgians took a 44- 32 lead into the interval, but Israel allowed the visitors only 20 points after that and held on for the win.
“Physically we are okay, but we still have some problems in defense and offense,” said coach Arik Shivek when asked how Israel’s preparations are going.
Lior Eliyahu and Yotam Halperin led the team with 15 points each on Wednesday, with Elishay Kadir scoring 13.
“It was important to us to win this warm-up tournament,” Halperin said.
“Now we are entering the money-time and we begin with what is on paper the toughest qualifier.
We have a talented team, but talent doesn’t win games. You need to know how to fight as well.”