Israel looks to sweep Eurobasket qualifying window as Slovenia awaits

Feb 25, 2024 | Uncategorized

Israel visits Slovenia on Sunday evening (7pm Israel time) as they continue their Eurobasket 2025 qualification campaign after defeating Portugal last week 72-70 in Lisbon. The blue-and-white will no doubt face a quality opponent in Slovenia despite the fact that they will not have Luka Doncic available due to his NBA commitment as they still will have veterans Klemen Prepelic, Mike Tobey and Jaka Blazic who can no doubt cause all kinds of issues.

With that in mind, should Head Coach Ariel Beit Halachmi’s squad come out and play the way they did against Portugal, they will have a very, very difficult time finding a way to come home with a pair of victories.

Ariel Beit Halachmi – Photo credit: FIBA

“This won’t be enough against Slovenia, that’s for sure,” the Sabra bench boss said. “I believe that we can play our basketball against them. In this window with everting going on the most important thing is to win.”

“They are a totally different type of team and the level will be much higher than that of the Portugal game. The players will come into this game looser in a game that will be a different style as well in which we can use our basketball to our advantage. The guys are focused with the goal of winning the game.”

Winning is no doubt the most important thing. The fact that Israel was able to come away with a razor thin victory at Portugal kept the blue-and-white on track by not falling to a team that is nowhere near the same level but yet very dangerous. A loss could have created chaos and complicated matters that much more in becoming one of the top 3 teams in the group to advance to the Eurobasket tournament itself.

Tomer Ginat – Photo Credit: FIBA

“We knew it would be tough,” captain Tomer Ginat commented. “They are a strong national team and they were very good on the offensive rebound. We didn’t play well enough on the offensive side of the ball but our defense, character and heart at the end helped us bring home this very important win.”

The last thing Israel wanted to have happen was to head to Slovenia with an 0-1 record and a ton of pressure to try and find a way to win on the road and come home 1-1.

Israel certainly may end up being 1-1 after these opening two games, but that is fine because there will still (hopefully) be three home game remaining in the final two windows and they have yet to play Ukraine whose home game will probably be in Riga, Lativa in November.

“We have to continue the same way as to how we played in this game,” veteran center Itay Segev explained. “We have to play with intensity, go for every ball, control the boards and trust the coaches that they will prepare us properly for the game against Slovenia.”

Klemen Prepelic – Photo Credit: FIBA

Klemen Prepelic is coming into the Israel game after having scored 30 points in Slovenia’s home win over Ukraine and will be a threat to score every time he handles the ball explained Beit Halachmi, “His abilities are well known, especially on a national team without Doncic. He will take more upon himself but it’s not just him as they have plenty of quality players. He was the key in Slovenia’s win over Ukraine and went to the line 15 times which is something that we will need to be aware of.”

Israel will also have to be careful with the likes of Mike Tobey who plays a solid game not only above the rim but can hit his shot as well while Jaka Blazic can cause all kinds of issues from any place on the floor.

For the blue-and-white, many players had a rough night at the office against Portugal whether it was Oz Blayzer or Nimrod Levi. The hope is that the pair will once again perform at the top of their abilities as they did in Koper a year ago when they helped lead Israel to an 87-79 win with 11 and 20 points respectively.

Roman Sorkin – Photo Credit: FIBA

However, one player that Israel will be without is Roman Sorkin who suffered a knee injury at Portugal and will be out for a month. Netanel Artzi who did not dress last game will be available for Beit Halachmi and others will need to step up to fill quite a large void.

“My heart is with Roman and I hope that this is really not a serious injury,” the coach said. “As I always say we will need to talk about those who are here and I believe that they will pick up the slack and will bring extra to this game in order to fill in for Roman.”

Perhaps one of those players will be Noam Yaacov despite being a guard but who played admirably against Portugal and scored 18 points against Slovenia the last time the two countries faced one another.

Oz Blayzer and Noam Yaacov – Photo Credit: FIBA

There is no question that Slovenia will be a game that will be more in Israel’s comfort zone but nonetheless, they are a very good team even without Doncic as they will also look to move to 2-0 in qualifying. The more wins that teams collect now, the easier qualifying will be later.

The last thing Israel will want to have happen is to head into the final window in a year from now with their backs against the wall having to play must win games. If they can take care of business now, their lives will be that much simpler in February of 2025.

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