Belinelli, Italy hang on to defeat Israel in exhibition play


San Antonio Spurs guard Marco Belinelli and the Italian National team returned to exhibition play Thursday with a narrow 67-64 victory over Israel.

Unlike Wednesday when the Italians and Belinelli specifically (21 points) dominated Georgia, Houston Rockets forward Omri Casspi and Israel proved to be a much tougher matchup. Belinelli, himself, struggled throughout the game to find a consistent rhythm.

Belinelli finished the game with just 11 points on 3-of-13 shooting. He also missed all four of his attempted 3-pointers in the game. He grabbed 2 rebounds, tallied 1 assist and stole the ball 4 times in his 25:39 minutes of play. Belinelli did score Italy's final 4 points of the game by hitting clutch free throws.

Aside from the first quarter where the Italians took an early 16-10 lead, both teams battled throughout the game in quarters separated by no more than four points. In the end though, the Italians retook the lead in the last 1:32 of the fourth quarter to hold onto the win.

Casspi finished the game with 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 steals as Israel was within three points of winning the game.

The Italians will play their third consecutive game in three days Friday against Poland. So far, Italy is 2-0 in exhibition play.