Israel's Biggest Test

11.09.2007

By Cindy Garcia-Bennett

Spain have already clinched a place in the quarter-finals and their opponents today, Israel, have a chance of joining them.

Before Zvi Sherf's men even run out onto the court, though, other results must go their way for their game against Spain to mean anything.

Russia must beat Croatia and Greece must defeat Portugal. If that happens, then Israel would advance to the last eight with a victory over Spain.

Would anyone give the Israelis a chance against the world champions?

They should, especially considering what happened two years ago when the Israelis beat Spain in Novi Sad, 85-77, in group play.

Also consider that Israel have already upset Croatia in this tournament.

However, the likelihood is that they will not advance and it is largely down to their surprise defeat against Portugal two days ago.

Pau Gasol (Spain)
Gasol is a tough assignment
for Israel's inside players
Last result: Spain beat Russia 81-69 while Israel lost to Portugal 94-85.

Key match-up: Pau Gasol v Lior Eliyahu. Gasol is arguably the most dominant player here in Spain, averaging 19.8 points per game. Eliyahu is young, but is an amazing talent. He was the only bright spot against Portugal.

Key Statistics: Israel were outrebounded 45-25 against Portugal and must improve in that department.

X-Factor: Eliyahu had his best game of the tournament against Portugal, scoring a game-high 29 points and hauling nine rebounds. The Maccabi Tel Aviv forward will be hoping for another big performance.

Speaking out: "We have found it difficult against Israel in our past games and they always give us problems. On Sunday they weren't expecting to lose against Portugal. They have a good group and we have to take this game with all seriousness. For us, our main aim is to finish top of our group but we have to take it one step at a time. We cannot already think that we have done it all, we must do our job on the court." Spain captain Carlos Jimenez.


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