Israel suffers first defeat in Euro 2025 qualifiers against Slovenia

Israel’s basketball team has lost its first game in the Eurobasket 2025 qualifiers, after being defeated by Slovenia 88-79 on Sunday night. The loss came after Israel had won its opening game against Kosovo on Friday.

Israel started the game well, leading by 10 points at the end of the first quarter, 25-15. The team was led by Tamir Blatt, who scored 11 points and had 5 assists in the first 10 minutes.

However, Slovenia fought back in the second quarter, reducing the gap to 4 points at halftime, 44-40. The Slovenian team was boosted by the return of Luka Doncic, the NBA star who had missed the first game due to injury. Doncic scored 14 points and had 6 rebounds in the first half.

The third quarter was a close affair, with both teams exchanging baskets and leads. Israel managed to stay ahead by 2 points at the end of the quarter, 66-64.

The fourth quarter, however, was dominated by Slovenia, who outscored Israel 24-13. Doncic took over the game, scoring 12 points and making 4 assists in the final 10 minutes. He finished the game with 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists, almost recording a triple-double.

Israel could not keep up with Slovenia’s pace and intensity, and made several turnovers and missed shots. The team’s top scorer was Blatt, who had 19 points and 7 assists. Jake Cohen added 16 points and 7 rebounds.

The standings and the next games

The result means that Israel is now second in Group I, with one win and one loss. Slovenia is on top, with two wins. Kosovo and Ukraine are third and fourth, respectively, with one loss each.

The next window of games will be in November, when Israel will face Ukraine in a home-and-home series. Slovenia will play Kosovo in the same format.

The top three teams in each group will qualify for the Eurobasket 2025 finals, which will be co-hosted by Germany, Czech Republic, Georgia, and Italy.

The impact of the Israel-Gaza war on the team

The game was played amid the ongoing Israel-Gaza war, which erupted on October 7, 2023, when Hamas militants infiltrated southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people and taking 253 others hostage. Israel responded by launching a massive air and ground campaign in Gaza, targeting Hamas and other militant groups.

The war has affected the Israeli basketball team, as some of its players have relatives and friends in the affected areas. The team has also faced security threats and travel restrictions, as well as protests and boycotts from some of its opponents.

The team’s coach, Ariel Beit Halachmi, said that the war has been a challenge for the team, but also a motivation to play well and represent the country.

“We are playing for our people, for our families, for our friends, who are suffering and living in fear. We want to give them some joy and hope, and show them that we are with them,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *