Israel Eliminated after 1st Quarter Knockout
Orli Klinger, Latvia ,06/08/2009
Israel dug itself a 22 point hole in a horrendous first quarter against Italy and couldn't climb out. Even though Israel won the following three quarters they never got closer than 8. Following Belarus' dramatic overtime loss to France later that night, Israel was officially eliminated from the championships.

Israel 64 – Italy 75
Only Italy showed up for the first half in a game which everyone marked as the battle for the 3rd and final ticket to the top 12. Italy's sharp shooters buried 7 of 11 threes, including one from half court which made it 46 – 26 at the half. The Italians controlled the boards, made it tough on Doron with a taller defender and tore Israel apart inside with 18 points in the paint. Israel, who again got no offensive production from anyone other than Doron & Levisky, simply looked lost. The 2nd half was better, a 12 – 0 Israeli run in the 3rd gave us a short lived glimmer of hope, but it was far from what it took to comeback all the way from 22 down.

Israel's theoretic chance of qualifying for the top 12 demanded a Belarus victory over France in the following game, which nearly happened. Belarus came back from a double digit deficit to go up 59 – 57 with 1.3 seconds to play, before Emmanuelle Hermouet buried a huge baseline jumper, overtime. In the extra period Belarus could barely get shots off and lost 61 – 63, as Tatyana Troina's huge three went in but was ruled out. Disappointing loss for Belarus, campaign over for Israel.

Israel opened the game with the worst quarter we can remember in recent years. Four layups refused to fall in the early minutes and the confidence offensively went out the door. On the other end Italy didn’t miss as they hit 6 of 7 threes, including 5 for 5 by Raffaella Masciadri who made it 19 – 7. Doron couldn't get the ball as the taller Masciadri defended her well and Israel's set offense created nothing. Eli Rabi ended the quarter with a lineup we never thought we'd see, with Zairy, Epstein, Kolodny and Fleischer, and the gap grew accordingly. Masciadri's fifth three and two more layups by her teammates made it 32 – 10 after one. Israel made 3 of 15 shots and had half of Italy's 12 rebounds.

Eli Rabi returned to a sane lineup, Israel began to play some defense with a zone that extended out to the shooters, and finally got some stops. Levitsky hit from mid range, Doron nailed a three and added a steal & layup to make it 17 – 32 and sent the Italian coach to call a timeout, eight to go in the half. The momentum was short lived as Israel settled for outside shots which wouldn't fall, while Italy went inside to makeit 38 – 19. Israel couldn't generate a significant run and despite the improvement on defense, got no closer than 15. Liron Cohen settled for another three in the final seconds, the rebound went to Franchini who nailed a shot from way beyond half court to make it 26 – 46 at the break.

Israel continued to miss from outside as the gap reached 22 in five minutes, 33 – 55. Following a timeout Israel made its long awaited and only run, as Italy finally missed some threes. Suez Karni scored from the line and off Cohen's assist to spark a 12 – 0 run, all points in the paint. Doron added a breakaway layup, a steal and another layup off Cohen's assist. Suez Karni and Cohen continued the momentum to cut it to 45 – 55, two minutes left in the 3rd, timeout Italy. Dori took a good three that wouldn't fall, Machadri's three did fall, and the run was over. Israel turned it over, missed another three and watched Italy make it 59 – 45 after three.

Levitsky from outside and Abramzon from inside cut it to 50 – 61, but Doron's 4th foul was bad news. Israel couldn't translate stops to points and Rabi called a timeout, under 7 to play. Another good three didn't go for Suez Karni and Abramzon missed a fast break layup, as if to prove this wasn’t our day. Things got worse as Doron's attempt to draw a charge turned into her 5th foul with four to play. Israel began to press, Abramzon and Suez Karni hit threes and Cohen stole the ball to set Abramzon up for a trip to the line that cut it to 60 -68 with 2:12 on the clock, closest Israel has gotten since the beginning of the game. But it was too little and way too late.

For Israel:
Liad Suez Karni 18 pts
Shay Doron 14 pts
Katia Levitsky 10 pts
Katia Abramzon 9 pts
Liron Cohen 6 pts, 6 ast
Laine Selwyn 5 pts
Michal Epstein 2 pts

Reffaella Masciadri led Italy with 23 pts (7/10 threes)

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