Spain recovered from a poor first half performance to defeat Israel 69-44 in their first game of the qualifying round.
The defending champions used a 23-0 in the third quarter to turn a 24-19 deficit at half time into a 48-35 lead going into the final period.
Jota Cuspineda’s men came out cold and only got their first field goal of the game when Alejandro Lopez buried a three-pointer in the closing seconds of the opening quarter to cut
|Alberto Jodar led the way for Spain with 18 points and 12 rebounds. |
Spain connected on just four of 29 shots in the first half but still only trailed by five points at the break as Israel, after getting off to a good start that saw them jump to a 12-1 lead, then failed to match their opponents’ growing intensity the rest of the way.
‘We had our worst first half of the tournament so far,’ Cuspineda said afterwards.
‘We had trouble getting by Israel’s No 10 [Ami Wolf] before the break but I told my players to be more aggressive and to attack him. They did a better job of that in the second half.’
Alberto Jodar, who finished with a game-high 18 points, scored seven in a row early in the third quarter to bring Spain within one, 30-29.
Ignacio Guigou Tuleda, who had played sparingly in the group games, came off the bench to provide a huge scoring lift.
He made a lay up to give Spain their first lead of the game, 31-30, before converting back-to-back three-pointers with under three minutes left in the period.
‘We were having so much trouble scoring that I had to turn to players I hadn’t used much before,’ Cuspineda said afterwards. ‘I told Ignacio to just play his game and he came up big for us today.’
Spain stretched their lead to over 20 points in the final frame thanks to Oscar Alvaro Rodriguez who scored seven of his 11 points in the quarter.
Or Itzhaki led the way for Israel with 11 points.