The Blue and White could not have asked for a better start to their 2015 EuroBasket campaign, as they upset defending Olympic bronze medalists Russia by a score of 76-73. Israel goes to 1-0 in Group A while Russia slips to 0-1.
Unsurprisingly, Russia dictated play in the 1st half, and took a 10 point lead into the break, which did not bode well for Israel’s chances. Throughout its EuroBasket tune ups, Israel had played well early in the game, only to squander halftime leads and lose out at the end. This time, Israel was able to turn the tables.
Energized by a halftime pep talk from Coach Erez Edelstein, Israel came alive in the third quarter against the heavily favored Russians. Leading scorer Omri Casspi put up eight of his game high 21 points in the quarter as Israel outscored Russia 21-10 to grab the lead entering the fourth quarter.
The Blue and White stayed hot in the early going of the fourth quarter, building a double digit lead of its own. The Russians made one final run, but could not overcome poor shooting and 17 turnovers as Israel held on for the three-point victory. The margin could have been larger had the Israelis not missed 11 of their 34 free throw attempts in the game.
Omri Casspi of the Sacramento Kings continued his good run of form, finishing with a near double double, with 9 rebounds to go along with his 21 points. Lior Eliyahu pitched in with 16 points. Andrey Vorontsevich and Dmitry Khvostov each had 15 points in the losing effort.
Israel will be pleased with the win but will not have much time to celebrate. Their tournament continues tomorrow with a game against Finland, who took hosts France to overtime but lost, 97-87. Russia will hope to bounce back from their opening day loss with a win over Marcin Gortat and Poland, who held off Bosnia and Herzegovina to join France and Israel on top of Group A.
Stay up to date on Israel’s EuroBasket 2015 experience all tournament long at the Sports Rabbi website!