Basketball / Eurobasket 2013 qualifiers / Israel throws it away in last quarter
National team coach Arik Shivek's inept tactics in the final quarter results in Israel losing the opening game of its Eurobasket 2013 qualifying campaign 69-75 to Montenegro in Buducnost last night.
National team coach Arik Shivek's inept tactics in the final quarter led to Israel losing the opening game of its Eurobasket 2013 qualifying campaign 69-75 to Montenegro in Buducnost on Wednesday night.
During an excellent third quarter, the Israelis pressured their opponents throughout, made steals and scored a series of easy baskets in breakaway attacks, turning a three-point deficit to a 65-48 lead at the end of the quarter.
Shivek chose to open the fourth quarter with a tall lineup, with Guy Pnini in the scorer's role. At first, Omri Casspi and Lior Eliyahu continued to use their athletic advantages and landed some clean shots that maintained the lead, but the Israelis failed to stop three-point attempts by the hosts. The Montenegrans, who had missed all their first 11 three-point shots, finished the game with a flurry of them for a final tally of nine from 29 attempts.
As the hosts nibbled away at Israel's lead, Shivek made only one substitution the whole quarter - Elishay Kadir for Eliyahu for one brief minute - and continued to play with a tall lineup that lacked creativity and tired as the clock ran down.
Three penalty throws by Suad Sehovic after a foul by Alex Tyus leveled the score at 69-69 only 90 seconds from the buzzer. Shivek called a time-out, after which Pnini missed a fairly easy shot. Casspi tried to steal the ball but only succeeded in fouling Taylor Rochestie, who was accurate twice from the penalty line and put the Montenegrans in front for the first time in nearly half the game. Israel tried to retaliate via the marauding Eliyahu, but Vladimir Dasic blocked him. Rochestie was then accurate with two penalty shots for Montenegro, which won the fourth quarter 27-13 to seal the turnaround victory.
Earlier in the game, such a victory looked unlikely as Israel's excellent zone defense made the hosts miss all their early three-point attempts, but a serious problem with rebounds (12-10 to Montenegro under the Israeli basket! ) caused Israel to go into the half-time break trailing 34-37. Yotam Halperin, who played only 13 minutes, looked out of shape and did not shoot even once, but it was Shivek's gamble on tall players that ultimately cost Israel the game.
Leading scorers for Israel: Eliyahu, 22; Casspi, 17; Ohayon, 8 (10 rebounds ); Tyus, 8; Pnini, 6; Limonad, 4; Gal Mekel, 2; Kadir 2. Also played: Halperin, Ido Kuzikaro and Nitzan Hanochi.
Montenegro is considered Israel's main rival for the second qualifying position from its group for the biennial tournament. The group also includes the favorite Serbia, Estonia, Iceland and Slovakia.