Ahead by 16 points in the third quarter, Israel looked poised to retain a share of first place and a perfect record in Group A play through three games, as well as a berth in the quarterfinals. By the time the final buzzer sounded after overtime, however, the Blue and White had suffered a devastating two point loss to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Israel’s future in the tournament had become a lot more uncertain.
It was Bosnian center Elmedin Kikanovic who was most responsible for breaking Israeli hearts, as he made two big shots when it mattered most.
With Israel clinging to a three point lead in the waning seconds of regulation, the big man delivered a clutch game tying three-pointer as time ran out to send the game into overtime.
Israel again built a lead in the extra session, leading by as many as seven points, but the Bosnians fought back again and Kikanovic managed to deliver the knockout blow, completing an easy layup off of a beautiful pass from Alex Renfroe to breathe new life into Bosnia’s tournament chances.
Omri Casspi was the high man for Israel with 29 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. Twenty of those points came in the first half, after which Israel held a 10 point edge. Lior Eliyahu and Gal Mekel pumped in 14 points each.
The Israelis will have a day to get their heads together and rest up for Wednesday’s clash with Poland. They will most likely need a win in one of their last two remaining games of group play in order to secure advancement. After facing Poland, Israel plays the hosts and current group leaders France. Beating France would seem to be a tall task, but the French will most likely have the group wrapped up already by then and may elect to rest their starters as a result.