Israel’s basketball team moved a step closer to securing their place in next year’s Eurobasket after they beat Bulgaria 100-84 in Sofia on Sunday.
Having lost their opening game against Montenegro, before recording a slender win over the Netherlands, they produced a polished performance to see off the Bulgarians – who are considered to be their main rival for a top-two finish in Group B.
Omri Casspi top-scored for Israel, scoring 19 points, D’or Fischer finished with 18, Gal Mekel claimed 16, Raviv Limonad 15, Guy Pnini 12 and Yotam Halperin 11.
Coach Erez Edelstein said afterwards: “There are no easy games in basketball, if you don’t take your opponent seriously you may find yourself surprised. We don’t go wild when we win and we don’t go wild when we don’t play so well. Our goal is to reach the European Championships.
“This is a short six-game tournament and every game is important. I’m very happy we did a good job tonight.”
Mekel said: “I think the key for us was to begin the second half with a lot of energy, we were really scared of this game, but we finished it in the third quarter.
“This was a very important win and now we will turn our focus to the war against Montenegro on Wednesday. The defeat to Montenegro in Cyprus is a painful memory, but we believe we can beat them.”
Israel next travel to Podgorica to take on Montenegro in a game which will all but seal who finishes top of the group.
The seven group winners, as well as the six-best second-place finishers, qualify automatically for next summer’s tournament.
Following the Montenegro game, Israel then host Netherlands (August 24) and Bulgaria (August 27) in Nicosia, Cyprus.