Israel qualified for the second round of FIBA World Cup Qualifying after defeating Great Britain 67-59. The win moves the Blue & White to 3-3 and to second place in Group H behind 6-0 Greece and will tip off against Germany, Serbia and Georgia beginning in September for a ticket to the World Cup in China 2019. Gal Mekel played arguably his best game under coach Oded Katash scoring 20 points while adding 5 assists and 4 rebounds. Jake Cohen again played an important roll for Israel with 14 points while Rich Howell came just a rebound shy of a double-double with 10 points and 9 boards. Dan Clark starred for the host’s with 19 points and 7 rebounds. Check back on Tuesday for a full analysis of the win and what awaits Israel in the next round.
Coach Oded Katash spoke about the win, “It was a tough game but a big one for us and we showed some character after last week’s loss to Greece. We knew we were playing a tough opoemet here. It wasn’t a great game but we played well defensively. We played with big heart and character.” Katash also looked ahead to the next round, “We are a new and young team and it will get tougher in the next round and a big challenge. We will have to show that we deserve that we are there. Hopefully we will get more experience.”
Jake Cohen also looked back at the victory, “It feels great and certainly I had a fun June and July winning the Israeli championship and qualifying for the next round. I’m very pleased with how it went down, it wasn’t a pretty game but getting the win was the most important thing. They wanted the game really badly and so did we and we fought them for every ball and came out on top which was a testament to our spirit and fight.”
1) After yesterday’s fiasco with Amare Stoudemire, Hapoel Jerusalem announced two signings today, big man Tashawn Thomas who played with Hapoel Holon last season and Chris Johnson who plied his trade with French team BCM Gravelines-Dunkerque. Johnson has played in the NBA a number of teams including the Utah Jazz and Boston Celtics and has an escape clause should he sign a guaranteed contract with an NBA team by August 1. Thomas comes to the Reds after a fine campaign in Holon but there is a report by Dubi Pick on the One.co.il website that he may have a shoulder injury. Interesting times in the capital city, interesting times.
Quick Hits – Max Grechkin signs a new deal with Maccabi Tel Aviv and joined Hapoel Hadera on loan…Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Bytovia Bytow 4:0 in their 3rd friendly of their preseason training camp in Poland…Ariel Beit Halachmi will continue as coach of Hapoel Gilboa/Galil…Beitar Jerusalem drew 2:2 in a friendly at their Hungary Training Camp…Guard David Cohn of William & Mary signs with Hapoel Eilat BC…