Israel fell to Spain 78-73 to end their Eurobasket 2022 qualifying campaign with a 5-1 record in Group A play. Despite the loss, the blue-and-white finished atop the group and had already punched their ticket to the European Championships before this two game window in Poland. On Friday, Israel had defeated Romania 79-71 to secure first place and head into the competition as one of the best teams in the continent.
Spain took the game to Israel from the get go and grabbed a 42-31 lead into halftime. Oded Katash’s squad worked hard to cut the advantage down in the third quarter, but the blue-and-white ran out of steam over the final frame to finally succumb to the World Champions.
Jake Cohen led all scorers with 20 points and 8 rebounds, Tomer Ginat added 12 points and Adam Ariel chipped in with 11 points in the defeat. Dario Brizuela scored 18 points for Sergio Scariolo’s team, Fernan Bassas added 12 points while Xabi Lopez-Arostegui and Joel Parra each scored 11 points in the win.
Israel got off to a hot start with buckets by Jake Cohen, Tomer Ginat and a steal and dunk by Iftach Ziv but Spain found points by Dario Brizuela and Ruben Pino to keep pace with the blue and white who led 8-4 midway through the first quarter. Brizuela, Jonathan Barreiro and Ferran Bassas found points for the Spaniards while Fern Guerra scored as well to give Sergio Scariolo’s team a 19-13 lead after ten minutes.
Jaime Fernandez and Cohen traded baskets to get the second quarter underway, Tamir Blatt put in points but Xabi Lopez-Arostegui nailed a 3-pointer and Joel Parra added a layup as Spain stayed ahead 26-17 with 6:41 left in the period. Tomer Ginat put in points to pull Israel to within 4-points but Arostegui and Parra continued to find the basket to stay in front 31-22 with four minutes left in then first half. Bassas from downtown was matched by Adam Ariel for Israel’s first triple in eight tries, Ginat scored as did Josh Carter and Noam Dovrat but Parra with a dunk and a 3-pointer by Brizuela gave Spain a 42-31 advantage at halftime.
Blatt, Cohen and Ariel began the second half with a triple a piece, Ginat added a layup and Ariel nailed another 3-pointer to pull Israel to within 49-48 midway through the third quarter. Bassas scored against the tough Israeli defense but Ziv came right back at the other end as did Dovrat but Arostegui went from downtown, however, points by Cohen kept Israel close down by just 1-point 59-58 after thirty minutes.
Barreiro and Fernandez scored layups to begin the fourth quarter, Dovrat scored in the paint but Spain led 65-61 with five minutes remaining in regulation time. Rafi Menco scored his first points of the game from deep, Parra and Cohen traded baskets, Guerra scored in the paint, Blatt sent from 3 to even up the score at 72-72 with under two minutes left in the period. Brizuela drilled a sweet deuce as Bassas and Arostegui hit their free throws to give Spain the hard earned victory.