Belgium overwhelms Israel in Eurobasket opener

Jun 15, 2023 | Holyland Hoops

Israel has suffered a blowout loss against Belgium to start its EuroBasket campaign on Thursday night at Tel Aviv’s Shlomo Group Arena – Drive In, with the Cats winning 108-59 in a one-sided Group B affair in which they led for the whole game.

Alyssa Baron and Yarden Garzon got on the board for Israel with early 3-pointers, however by the first timeout just under four minutes into the game, Belgium was already ahead 14-6 through early baskets to captain Emma Meesseman, Kyara Linskens and Julie Vanloo.

Israel managed to bring the margin to within 5 points with a minute left in the quarter, however they allowed Belgium to score the last 5 points to take a 28-10 lead into the second quarter.

Eden Zipel – Photo Credit: FIBA

Laure Resimont started off the second quarter with 8 consecutive points for the Cats. Belgium then added another 8 points, completing a 21-0 run and getting out to a 44-18 lead before the Blue & White got their first basket of the quarter, with Eden Zipel shooting a 3-pointer, followed by 2 points for captain Eden Rotberg. When Zipel hit another 3-pointer to reduce the deficit to 20 points at 46-26, there was hope in the stadium that Israel may be able to keep coming. However, Belgium again steadied to take a 61-34 lead into the halftime break.

Baskets to Daniel Raber, Rotberg and Garzon in the early part of the third quarter helped the team slowly chip away at the deficit, bringing it back to 65-41. However, just as quickly as Israel came at Belgium, Belgium put the game away with a 17-0 run to get out to an 82-41 lead with a little under two minutes remaining in the quarter and they took an 85-43 lead into the final quarter.

The only question remaining in the last quarter was by how much Belgium would win the game. While the home crowd continued to cheer – one of the highlights being an Alex Cohen block on Julie Allemand with a few minutes remaining – the Cats made sure to never lift the proverbial foot off the pedal, running out 49-point winners.

Emma Meesseman – Photo Credit: Fiba

Meesseman (23 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals), Resimont (22 points and 1 assist), Vanloo (16 points and 5 assists), Allemand (14 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists) and Linskens (12 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and 1 block) starred for the winners, while Garzon (13 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists), Rotberg (11 points, 1 rebound and 2 assists) and Zipel (10 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist and 3 steals) scored in double-figures for the home team.

“I’m so happy to start the tournament like this with a win,” Belgium coach Rachid Meziane said after the win. “To start with a win is always positive, so now we have to switch our mind to the game against the Czech Republic tomorrow.”

Laure Resimont – Photo Credit: FIBA

“We are happy about this game, I think we wanted to show that we are ready for this championship and we did that perfectly today,” Resimont said after the win.

“It feels amazing to get that first win,” Linskens said. “It gives us the confidence to go into the next game. I think we played really well together today, so I’m very happy.”

Sharon Drucker – Photo Credit: FIBA

“First of all, I have to congratulate the Belgium team,” Israel coach Sharon Drucker said. “I have been in basketball for a lot of years and they really play well. They know each other, they are very synchronized, playing with intensity, so for sure they deserve all the compliments. For us, it was a lesson of how it should look and what is the level and where we want to go through the years. I think maybe we had a chance from 5 points down in the first quarter, I thought we had to finish the first quarter within 4, 5 or 6 points and not 10. But I think that we know that they are better and they deserve the win – no excuses, they are a better team.”

“Sure, I was excited,” Zipel said of the opening game in front of the home crowd. “I take from this game today the fact that we have to stay together. On the court, when we weren’t playing together, it went the way we didn’t want it to go. I’m very proud of us, but I really think we need to stick together, because tomorrow we have another game and it is more important than today, because today is already over.”

“It was just David and Goliath, to be honest,” Jennie Simms (6 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists), who struggled with the attention she received from the Cats during the game, said. “They’re a great team. We’ve got to be ready and we’ve got to be prepared, but at the end of the day we’ve got to let it go. We knew what we were coming up against, they’re some of the best people who are here. So at the end of the day we’ve got to play tomorrow and be better.”

Jennie Simms – Photo Credit: FIBA

In Group B’s earlier game, the Czech Republic came back from 14 points down midway through the third quarter to defeat Italy 61-58. In Thursday’s Group A games in Tel Aviv, Montenegro defeated Greece 74-69, while Latvia shocked one of the tournament favorites Spain, winning 67-63.

Israel plays its next game on Friday against Italy (15:30 IDT / 8:30 EDT) in a must-win clash for both teams, who will likely need to go through the play-in to reach the next stage of the tournament in Slovenia.

In the other games in Tel Aviv, the Czech Republic play Belgium (12:15 IDT / 5:15 EDT), Greece takes on Latvia (18:15 IDT / 11:15 EDT) and Spain faces Montenegro (20:45 IDT / 13:45 EDT).

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