Ukraine 88-64 Israel
The tournament began with high hopes from the start of training camp to media day to the 9-2 record in the warmup games. And then this. A blowout to Ukraine in a game that eventhough meant nothing for Israel, it really meant everything. Forget about not advancing out of their group, a group that Israel was hosting, forget about playing in the Round of 16 in Turkey, forget about the tough times they had containing Lithuania, Italy and falling in overtime to Georgia. It was a game of character. It was a game of commitment for both the players and for the coach.
What we saw was an embarrassment, disgrace, poor sportsmanship and just plain old pathetic. In front of the home fans, Israel lay down for Ukraine as they made easy work of the Blue & White to advance to Istanbul and knock our Georgia.
This is not the way that anyone wanted to see Israel end their Eurobasket campaign. Granted Rich Howell was out after a concussion, but it just seemed that the players didn’t care. They were elsewhere. And definitely not on the court.
Certainly the team wasn’t motivated because they had been eliminated but there is also something called pride. National pride. Being proud to wear the Israel jersey, being proud to represent the country, being proud to play with everything you’ve got in front of your own fans.
And they didn’t do that.
This is something that will sit on everyone’s resume.
And that is a shame.
Lithuania 89-72 Germany
Lithuania finished top of the group after a dominating performance by Jonas Valanciunas with 27 points and 15 rebounds. Dennis Schroder tried his best to match the big man and scored 26 points but it wasn’t enough for the Germans. Donatas Motiejunas added 15 points while Mantas Kalnietis dropped 10 points and dished out 9 assists in the victory.
Italy 71-69 Georgia
In an entertaining contest Luigi Datome had a decisive block to deny Giorgi Shermandini on the final play of the game to finish 3:2 good enough to advance to the Round of 16 in Turkey. Michael Dixon with 29 points tried his best to send Georgia to the promised land on their own steam but his effort came up a hair short. Marco Belinelli scored 15 points while Datome dropped 14 points in the win.