Israel’s National Basketball Team continued to disappoint as it fell to 0-3 in the European Championships being held in Slovenia.
After losing on Thursday night to Ukraine, the blue-and-white team was unable to pick up a crucial victory and lost to France 82-63.
The French team has several NBA players on the roster, including all-star point guard Tony Parker. In addition to Parker, the French have several players who play in the NBA. Though the French were expected to win, few expected them to win by such a large margin.
In the first quarter, Israeli star Omri Casspi got off to a quick start and hit a three-pointer but the French stormed back to take a 12-3 lead. The Israeli team caught up and found itself behind by six points at the end of the first quarter.
Israel was able to cut the lead down to four as the French were unable to score a point for what seemed to be a long four and half minutes. Israel had several chances to take the lead and capitalize on the French mistakes but instead was unable to convert open shots. Despite the terrible second quarter for the French, Israel went into half-time losing 38-29.
France came out of the halftime break on fire. After back-to-back three pointers by France’s NBA players Nicolas Batum and Nando De Colo, the French grabbed a 17 point lead and the rest of the game was history. From then on, Israel played catch up until the final whistle and lost by a margin of 19 points.
Casspi and Lior Eliyahu led the blue-and-white’s with 14 points, while France was led by Parker, who scored 12 points and dished out 7 assists. The biggest difference maker in the game was France’s 42 points in the paint as opposed to Israel’s 24.
During the third quarter, Israeli Sport5 announcer Pini Gershon explained how dominant the French performance was by saying, “The French are playing with our National Team as if we are school kids”.
With Israel’s third straight defeat in the tournament, Israel now finds itself the only team in Group A without a win through three games. Most pundits and European basketball experts had predicted Israel to finish in second place and said Israel was superior to all teams in the group but France.
Remarkably, the Israelis, who lost their opening match to the UK Wednesday, will still have a chance to advance to the second round if they defeat Belgium and Germany and if the rest of the strong teams in Group A can win. If Israel wins both games it would advance as the third best team in Group A.
Israel will get a much-needed day of rest and will return to action Sunday evening against Belgium. With the pressure mounting, Israel really needs a win.