Blue-and-white suffers a hefty blow in devastating 88-86 overtime loss to Estonia, despite hot-handed start by Casspi.
Israel’s hopes of qualifying for an 11th straight European Championships suffered a hefty blow on Saturday with a shock 88-86 overtime defeat to Estonia in Rishon Lezion.
The national team cruised in the first half, leading by as many as 17 points at one stage against a mediocre opponent. However, after a nervy finish saw it drop to a defeat to Montenegro in its qualifying opener last week, the blue-and- white was stunningly poor in the second half against Estonia and fell to an 0-2 record in Group A, seriously complicating its situation very early into its 10- game qualifying campaign.
Only the top two teams from the six qualifying groups and the four best third-placed teams will qualify for EuroBasket 2013, joining the already qualified Spain, France, Russia, FYR of Macedonia, Lithuania, Greece, Great Britain and the hosts Slovenia.
Perennial powerhouse Serbia is the firm favorite to win Group A, and following Israel’s loses to Montenegro and Estonia, it already faces a must-win situation on the road against Iceland and Slovakia on Tuesday and Friday, respectively.