Israel came up short 85-76 against Poland as their Eurobasket group play record dropped to 2-1 with Serbia coming up on Tuesday night at 9pm local time. The blue-and-white had trouble all game long stopping AJ Slaughter from the outside and Aleksandar Balcerowski on the inside as Igor Milicic’s squad was able to control the pace of play for the majority of the matchup to take the win.
For Israel, Deni Avdija could not get anything going as he scored only 3 points in 27 minutes, but on the plus side Yovel Zoosman who had been having a very difficult tournament broke out for 18 points while hitting a quartet of 3-pointers.
“We didn’t start well and chasing after Poland all game long,” Israel coach Guy Goodes said. “We won only one quarter and we didn’t do a good job on slaughter while he and Ponitka scored 35 points, we each scored well from deep but short on defense and we have to work on that area.”
“We turned the energy around from the last game, going back on defense and containing the fast pace of Israel’s game,” Poland coach Igor Milicic commented. “Both teams hit some tough shots and we had a secure lead. The players dove on the floor and went for every 50/50 ball which showed our heart.”
Israel’s leading scorer, Yovel Zoosman reflected on the loss, “We were one step behind all game and when we tried to come back we gave up quick baskets and we lost the momentum and positivity. They are a good team and we were missing that last step in this game.”
Aaron Cel also spoke about the contest that was, “This game was really important for us and we are very happy to win against a very good Israeli team. At some moments they made some good shots but we didn’t let them come back. Each guy has to be ready to make their shots and help and today I was able to do so. Every game it may be another player as we stick together on both sides of the ball. I’m proud of our guys.”
Guy Goodes’s squad will have two games remaining in Group D play as they will tip-off against Serbia on Tuesday night and then close out group play on Thursday against the hist country Czech Republic.
Four teams in each of the four groups of six will advance to the knockout stages in Berlin as Israel looks for one more win to ensure their participation. The knockout round will begin with the Round of 16 and will then move onto the quarterfinals from there all being one game single elimination matches.
In all likelihood for Israel, the final game of the group stage against Czechia may be the decisive contest to see who gets the last spot to move onto Berlin. However, should they finish in 4th place their stay in Germany may be a very short one as they will match up with the first place team in Group C which will most probably be against NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and Greece.
For Israel, the game against Serbia will be a difficult clash as Svetislav Pesic’s team is littered with NBA and EuroLeague stars from two time MVP Nikola Jokic to Vasilije Micic who stars for Anadolu EFES in Turkey.
Zoosman led Israel with 18 points, Madar added 17 points and Tamir Blatt ended the game with 10 points in the loss. Slaughter paced Poland with 24 points, Aleksandar Balcerowski scored 17 points and Aaron Cel chipped in with 9 points in the win.
Aaron Cel and Roman Sorkin traded inside buckets, Tamir Blatt hit from deep and Aleksandar Balcerowski scored with a turnaround basket in the paint and then hit from midrange while Nimrod Levi hit a corner 3-ball to get the first quarter off to a blazing start with Israel taking a 10-9 lead midway through the first quarter.
Michal Sokolowski nailed a pair of 3-pointers, Sorkin again scored in the paint, while Mateusz Ponitka and AJ Slaughter each scored layups, Tomer Ginat found points inside, Michal Michalak scored off a fast break as Yam Madar hit his free throws as Israel cut the Poland lead to 23-16 after ten minutes of play.
Madar led the break for Israel to begin the second quarter, Blatt drained one from deep, Ponitka scored in the lane, Madar came back with another deuce and Balcerowski put in an easy two to keep Poland in front 28-23 with 6:44 left in the first half. Slaughter went from deep twice, Yovel Zoosman stole the ball and put in a layup, Cel cut back door for a layup of his own, Zoosman drilled home a triple, Ginat put the ball in off the glass, Mekel scored as well but Poland kept the lead 39-33 at halftime.
Balcerowski and Cel began the third quarter with points, Zoosman, Jake Cohen and Blatt responded with 3-pointers as did Cel at the other end plus Balcerowski put in his own 3-point play as Poland remained in the lead 49-42 midway through the period. Ginat with a putback, Slaughter with a pair from downtown and Cel with one as the shot clock expired gave Poland a 14-point, 58-44 lead with 4:14 left in the frame. Madar went from beyond the arc and form within, Slaughter dialled up long distance yet again, Balcerowski scored in the paint and Michalak nailed a 3-pointer as Igor Milicic’s squad took a commanding 68-56 lead into the final frame.
Zoosman, Avdija and Levi all checked in from deep to get the fourth quarter underway to cut down the lead to 70-65 but Balcerowski hit a wild 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, however, Madar also dialled up long distance to shave the gap to 73-68 with just over six minutes to go. The active Balcerowski dunked, slaughter went from downtown for the 6th time in the game and added a layup, Ponitka went from deep, Zoosman scored a layup and added a triple but it was too little, too late as Israel will now turn their sights to Serbia on Tuesday night.