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Rabi, Israel Prepare For ‘Great Challenge’ Of EuroBasket Women

01 May 2009

Elitzur Ramla coach Eli Rabi had some exciting moments this season while leading the club into the Israeli championship series.

Though Electra Ramat Hasharon ended a six-year title drought by beating Elitzur Ramla 3-1 in the finals, Rabi finished on the winning side more often than not during the campaign and now he'll hope to do the same with Israel when he leads them into their second straight appearance at the EuroBasket Women.

Unlike Chieti in 2007, when they had to go through the Additional Qualifying Round to play in the prestigious event, Israel finished top of their Division A group in the summer of 2008 to reach this year's big tournament in Latvia.

"The EuroBasket is a great challenge for the continuing development of women's basketball in Israel," Rabi said.

"We will do everything in our power to go as far as possible in the championship."

In Group D, they will go up against the bronze-medal winners of the 2007 tournament, Belarus, along with France and Italy.

The preparations will get underway on May 7 when the preliminary squad of 16 players gather for the first time.

Among them are 10 players who played in Chieti.

They are Liad Suez-Karni, Meirav Dori, Laine Selwyn, Liron Cohen, Shay Doron, Shiran Zairy, Nomi Kolodny, Ekaterina Abramzon, Katia Levitsky and Jennifer Fleischer.

One player who is likely to stand out for the Israelis is guard Doron, who was voted by the fans to this year's EuroLeague Women All-Star Game in Paris.

In the 2008 qualifying campaign, she averaged 20.5 points per game while shooting 42.9% (18 of 42) from three-point range.

Shimrit Gigi, Noa Ganor and Michal Epstein will try to make the final list, as well as Bar Gilinski, Avigail Cohen and Neama Shafir - players who have received their first call-up to the senior national squad.

In addition to playing warm-up games in Russia and Slovakia, Israel will face EuroBasket Women hosts Latvia in two scrimmage games before the Final Round tips off on June 7.

First up in the real tournament for Israel is Belarus.

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