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Israel name veteran squad ahead of FIBA EuroBasket 2017
TEL AVIV (FIBA EuroBasket 2017) - Veterans Yotam Halperin and Guy Pnini are back in the Israel squad ahead of FIBA EuroBasket 2017.
The duo will be looking to make the final 12-man roster and play when the country serves as a host nation for the competition for the first time. Israel's first game in Tel Aviv will be on August 31 against Italy.
Halperin appeared in six consecutive EuroBaskets, and Pnini four straight, before injury ruled both out of the competition in France two years ago.
Coach Erez Edelstein is expected to have each in the team when it takes on the Italians, Ukraine, Lithuania, Georgia and Germany in Group B.
|Israel preliminary 21-player squad for FIBA EuroBasket 2017|
|Oz Blayzer||Omri Casspi||Alexey Chubrevich||Jake Cohen||Shawn Dawson|
|Lior Eliyahu||Tomer Ginat||Yotam Halperin||Richard Howell||Elishay Kadir|
|Egor Koulechov||Raviv Limonad||Karam Mashour||Gal Mekel||Rafi Menco|
|Yogev Ohayon||Guy Pnini||Itay Segev||Amit Simhon||Bar Timor|
Halperin, 33, had expressed the desire to return to the national side earlier this season when he was performing well for Hapoel Jerusalem.
The naturalized spot looks set to be fill by 2.03m (6ft 8in) forward Richard Howell, a player that will give coach Erez Edelstein scoring and rebounding. Howell hails from Georgia in the United States and was a First Team All-ACC as a member of the North Carolina State Wolfpack in 2013.
He first played in Israel for Ironi Nahariya in the 2015-16 season and then started the current campaign with Hapoel Tel Aviv.
Howell moved to Hapoel Jerusalem in April and is now helping the club in the Winner League play-offs.
Several players from the Israel side that did so well in 2015 in advancing from the Group Phase to the Round of 16 are in the 21-man squad.
They are Omri Casspi, Shawn Dawson, Lior Eliyahu, Raviv Limonad, Gal Mekel, Yogev Ohayon and Bar Timor.
NBA star Casspi led the team in scoring at 16.4 points per game in France two years ago while Mekel (15.8 points per game) and Eliyahu (13.6 points per game) were the other big-time contributors.
The trio got the team off and running with an an opening day triumph over Russia, a result Israel used as a launchpad to finish second in Group A in Montpellier.The Israelis also claimed wins over Finland and Poland in France but had their worst performance of the tournament in a blowout defeat to Italy in the Round of 16.
Israel, whose first first training camp starts on July 18, will play 10 warm-up games for FIBA EuroBasket. They will square off twice against Romania in Bucharest, face Finland and Russia in Saint Petersburg and host Great Britain (August 13) in Tel Aviv.
The Israelis will also stage a tournament with Slovenia and Turkey (August 18-20) before wrapping up their friendly schedule in Warsaw, Poland, against Great Britain, Hungary and the Poles.