Casspi Wants Israel to Compete in 2012 Olympics



By: SAMMY HUDES  
Published: September 3rd 2010
in News » Israel

Israeli NBA player Omri Casspi

Although the Israeli men’s national basketball team returned home from a 79-69 loss to Montenegro on Sunday night, the team has plenty to celebrate and look forward to.

 

After closing out the European Championships 2011 (EuroBasket 2011) qualification round with a 5-3 record, Israel will now advance to its 10th straight Championships next year.

 

Israel finished second place in the tough Group A, which included Finland, Latvia, Italy and first place Montenegro. Israel qualified to compete in EuroBasket 2011 in Lithuania, as one of the two best group runner-ups.

 

The team is led by 22-year-old Omri Casspi, a 6-foot-9 forward who plays for the Sacramento Kings in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Casspi, the first and only ever Israeli to play in the NBA has his sights set very high for the Israeli team.

 

“We are very pleased that we accomplished the target we set ourselves at the beginning of the campaign,” said Casspi, who averaged a team high of 16.9 points per game in the tournament, along with 5.3 rebounds per game. “Our next goal is to reach the [2012] Olympics. I think it is possible. Even without the center we so desperately need, I think that with our fighting spirit and character it is possible.” If the Israeli can accomplish this daunting task and play in London in 2012, it would mark the first time that an Israeli men’s basketball team would compete in the Olympics since 1952.

 

“We achieved our goal and we did it in impressive fashion,” said Coach Arik Shivek, who will not meet again with the team until next July. Shortly after, EuroBasket 2011 will begin on September 3, 2011. “All the teams had ups and downs, but we qualified and that is the most important thing. We collected a group of stars and turned them into a team.” Guard Yuval Naimy concurred. “We had a tremendous accomplishment,” he said. “Nobody gave us a chance against Montenegro and Italy, but we proved that we are a worthy team.”



Related articles: (NBA, basketball, Omri Casspi, Olympics)




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