Omri Casspi Injury Could Knock Israel Star Out Of EuroBasket 2011

Omri Casspi could miss EuroBasket 2011 after injuring his knee during training with the Israeli national team, reports Eurobasket.com (via PBT). Casspi helped Israel qualify for EuroBasket during last year's qualifiers, and had hoped to lead the team to a top-six finish, which would earn the nation a bid in next summer's last-chance Olympic qualifying tournament, where the final three teams to win London 2012 bids will be decided.

Without Casspi, that bid seems doomed. Israel sits in Group B, with rising power Serbia, always dangerous France, a Germany team with Dirk Nowitzki, Latvia and Italy. There's a good chance that without Casspi Israel will finish last in group play. The top three finishers move on to the knockouts; winning a game in the first round of knockouts gets you into the Olympic qualifying tournament; the two finalists in the tournament will move on directly to the Olympic field.

Casspi was traded by the Sacramento Kings to the Cleveland Cavaliers for J.J. Hickson just before the NBA lockout began. Casspi had a strong start to his NBA career in 2009, but wore out that season and struggled to stay in Paul Westphal's good graces in 2010-11. The Kings, looking for stability at small forward, brought in veteran John Salmons in a draft day trade sending out Beno Udrih.

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