Israel may have succumbed to Belgium but a bright future lies ahead

Jun 15, 2023 | Holyland Hoops

Israel vs Belgium or David vs Goliath.

But this time it was Goliath by 49-points as the blue-and-white were crushed by Belgium 108-59 in their opening game of the Eurobasket tournament.

There was never any expectation that head coach Sharon Drucker’s squad was going to be in this game or even make it competitive and you know what? That’s fine.

Israel – Photo Credit: FIBA

The key for Israel in this game as to get their feet wet in a competition that they haven’t been in since 2011 and haven’t won a game in since 1991. There are still two games to go against Italy on Friday and Czechia on Sunday as Israel looks to find a way into the Play In round on Monday and somehow find a way to head to Slovenia for the knockout stages of the competition.

After losing to Belgium it certainly looks as of that is only a dream, but Czechia stunned Italy in the first game of Group B on Thursday which should give Israel hope that they can do the same despite the victory throwing a wrench in the thought that Sunday’s game would see the winner head to the Play In game. With Czechia winning a game against Italy that can still be possible but it’s also throws a real curveball at Drucker’s squad.

While roughly 1800 fans came to watch the Women’s National Team, many were youngsters which can only hope the game as they seek to grow the domestic league but also encourage more and more kids to get involved in the sport.

Yarden Garzon – Photo Credit: FIBA

With that, Drucker had a surprise or two of his own as 19 and 20-year olds Yarden Garzon and Eden Zipel not only started the game over some veteran players, they also played 30 and 25 minutes respectively while each scored in double digits as well as he also looks to the future. While Zipel said she wasn’t surprised to get the start, a number of observers certainly were when she opened the contest. However, that’s the eye to the next tournament and the next competition; get these young guns time now and see the fruits of the labor later.

Belgium is one of the top 3 teams in Europe and 7th overall in the world and played like it with one weapon after the next including superstar Emma Meesseman who scored 23 points and finished with an efficiency rating of 31, the highest of any player in the the game.

Jennie Simms who was making her first Eurobasket game and 4th game overall for Israel since obtaining citizenship tried to take the game to Belgium as did a number of the Israeli players who kept the game close to the end of the first quarter but the “Cats” ball movement and shooting were very hard for the blue-and-white to overcome.

Jennie Simms – Photo Credit: FIBA

Going 14/26 from downtown and 25/41 inside the arc are very, very good percentages for Belgium while taking 11 more total shots than Israel and also controlling the boards as the blue-and-white overall shooting percentage stood at 37.5% which is not going to win very many games which is something Drucker is keenly aware.

But Friday is another day and should Israel win, as crazy as it sounds they may find their way into the Play In game by topping one of the basketball greats. If Czechia can do it, Israel just have the attitude that they can do it as well.

Eden Zipel – Photo Credit: FIBA

However, Zipel kept talking about staying together and that when Israel did so on the court they were able to compete with Belgium, but when they did not play all for one and one for all the results were not surprising. A first half Belgium run of 21-0 and then 17-0 in the third quarter prove that point wholeheartedly and that will never, ever win you a game.

Can Israel shock the basketball world against Italy? Can Lior Garzon who is coming off an injury and didn’t play against Belgium be a key in the game as one of the team’s best 3-point shooters? And can Israel put a full 40 minute game together and comeback with a vengeance after suffering a heavy loss?

Tune in on Friday, because in sports you just never know.

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