ISRBAS

Picture: Israel Basketball Association

Israel’s EuroBasket 2015 qualifying campaign got off to a losing start on Sunday evening after they were beaten 100-97 by Montenegro in Nicosia, Cyprus.

While Erez Edelstein’s side did battle back to force overtime (86-86), they couldn’t maintain their level of play during extra time, as they fell to this disappointing defeat.

Omri Casspi proved to be Israel’s main attacking threat, finishing with 28 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, while Israel’s second NBA player, Gal Mekel, contributed 19 points and six assists in 26 minutes.

He said: “We had it in our hands but this is a tournament and we must remember that we have five more games to play. I really believe that we can win in Montenegro, but we first have to beat the Netherlands and Bulgaria.”

Flying back to Israel on Sunday night, they next face the Netherlands on Wednesday, before playing in Bulgaria on 17 August, and Montenegro three days later, before facing two more ‘home’ games in Cyprus – due to not being allowed to play in Israel due to the security situation – against the Netherlands on 24 August, and Bulgaria three days later.

The seven group winners, plus six best second-place finishers, will qualify for next summer’s tournament.