Israel crashed out of the Eurobasket as they fell to the hosts Czech Republic 88-77 which ended a disappointing campaign by the blue-and-white in Prague. Guy Goodes’s squad came out flat yet again in their decisive final game of Group D, falling behind early and often as they continually had to try and dig out of a deficit.
The Czech captain Vojtech Hruban played a crucial role in the first half along with Tomas Satoransky to give their Israeli coach Ronen “Neno” Ginzburg a 53-37 lead at the half. Debi Avdija, Yam Madar, Rafi Menco and Tomer Ginat all out the pedal to the metal in the third quarter to cut the lead to just 5-points, 67-62 with ten minutes remaining but Hruban hit some huge shots down the stretch to close out the game and send Israel packing.
Yam Madar scored 16 points, Tomer Ginat put in 15 points while Deni Avdija added 12 points, 8 rebounds and 11 assists in the crushing defeat. Vojtech Hruban led Czechia with 25 points, Jan Vesely added 16 points while Tomas Satoransky scored 14 points, pulled down 8 boards and dished out 11 assists.
Coach Guy Goodes also spoke about the stunning defeat, “We started the tournament with two great wins over Finland and Holland and we knew that if we beat Poland we would qualify. Serbia is Serbia and then against the host Czech Republic we didn’t start off playing good defense and if we played as we did in the second half we could have won.”
“We started the game well as almost always,” Ginzburg began. “We played against a good team and a good coach and we showed our lion heart. It’s no secret that we started this tournament with injuries and we had some problems but we knew how to come to this game and go all in. I’m happy for Czech basketball and in the past we did some miracles so we will see what will be coming up.”
Israel captain Gal Mekel reflected on the loss, “We are disappointed and sad also. This is not how we wanted to finish this week, but this is basketball. We made some mistakes and we paid for them and unfortunately we are not going to the next round.”
Vojtech Hruban also spoke about the game that was, “We are happy that we got the win today. It was a tough group phase where we needed a tough state of mind and dealt with a lot of injuries. We had a lot going on before the tournament, but our fans pushed us forward and it was great to reward them with the win. The first half we had good energy and the third quarter we had a down phase but with hard work and good play we were able to to it.”
The blue-and-white came into the game against Czechia’s Israeli coach Ronen “Neno” Ginzburg fully aware that whoever would win the clash would head to Germany while the other team would go home. Israel’s record heading into the final 40 minutes of the group stages in Prague was 2-2 with two wins to open the tournament against Finland in overtime and Holland which was followed by a pair of defeats against Poland and then Serbia.
The O2 Arena in the suburbs was close to sold out with a partizan Czech Republic crowd that would definitely play a factor for the hosts as only a few hundred Israeli fans were in the stands for the game.
Israel opened the game with Deni Avdija and Yam Madar along with Gal Mekel, Guy Pnini and Roman Sorkin while Czech star Tomas Satoransky who had been nursing an ankle injury and veteran big man Jan Vesely countered for the hosts.
Vesely opened the scoring while Guy Pnini went from deep twice to get the first quarter underway, an active Vesely fed a wide open Martin Peterka under the basket and Jaromir Bohacik hit a jumper as the game was all knotted up at 6-6 midway through the period. Roman Sorkin cleaned up a Deni Avdija missed 3-pointer, Tomas Kyzklink went in for a baseline dunk, Tomas Satoransky scored a tear drop and added one from deep, as did Vojtech Hruban while big man Ondrej Balvin scored a 3-point play to give Czechia a 26-17 lead after ten minutes of play.
Hruban began the second quarter from deep, Sorkin took a full court Avdija football pass and scored, Hruban added a layup, Madar fed Avdija inside for an easy deuce, Bohacik scored from downtown out of a timeout as did Martin Kriz while Avdija and Rafi Menco scored but Czechia opened the lead to 39-27 with 5:30 left in the first half. Hruban out down a dunk, Patrick Auda put in a hook shot, Sorkin and Madar found points, Vesely made a pair of buckets and Kyzlink scored as well to give the hosts a 53-37 advantage at halftime.
Menco went from downtown to get the third quarter underway, Vesely came right back with a deuce and Hruban with a triple, Nimrod Levi scored his first points of the game, Avdija fed Levi under the hoop and Avdija did the same for Menco as Israel cut the lead to 58-50 midway through the frame. Madar went to the hoop for a bucket, Avdija gave a cutting Ginat a perfect pass, Levi added points, Ginat went off the glass, Madar nailed a jumper at the end of the shot clock, Vesely hit a turnaround on the baseline to keep Czechia ahead 67-62 after thirty minutes of action.
Avdija and Satoransky traded triples to begin the fourth quarter. Vesely added a jumper, Hruban nailed a corner 3-ball and an off-balance hand in his face jumper in the key to bump the Czechia lead up to 77-65 with 7:10 remaining in regulation time. Kriz and Ginat each went from deep, as did Hruban at the other end while Madar hit from downtown also, Avdija scored a pair of baskets, but Hruban was just too much for Israel on this night as he led the Czech Republic to victory.