Oz Blayzer is not a newcomer to the Israel Basketball National Team as he has featured for the Under-18 and Under-20 sides in the past. However, this time it’s a bit different for the Kfar Tavor native as he has a chance to crack the senior team roster and play in Eurobasket 2017 which will have a group stage in Israel. Let’s take an intimate look at this 24 year old who has played with Maccabi Haifa over the last two seasons.
I was born in Kfar Tavor which is right between Afula and Tiberias. I played locally while growing up and playing in the Gilboa youth department. I then played for two years at Afula which is in the second division followed by a pair of seasons with Herzlilya. I’ve been with Haifa over the past two campaigns.
“My mom told me that I have been shooting the basketball into the crib since I was 3 years old. As a kid I tried everything form soccer to volleyball and everything in between. So I guess I just made a special connection to basketball. Also, since I’m a big guy, I was was attracted to the game. Since then it’s been a love story.
“When I was started to realize I that my profession could be basketball, I looked up to Terrence Morris and when he played with Maccabi Tel Aviv he was a very versatile player. I also admired Lior Eliyahu and Omri Casspi and I’ve been trying to be like all of them.
Arriving at Haifa:
“I played two years in Herzliya which was like a home for me and at the end of my second year I had a few options. I just felt that Haifa would be the right step forward for my career in order to take it to the next level. The people, the club, the coaching and the staff just felt right.
Trying to become a more complete player:
“Over the last three summers I’ve been able to work out with a personal trainer. Basically I work on making my game more versatile while trying to be able to make an impact in more areas of the game. If it’s shooting, post up, rebound or passing, I’m trying to be the most versatile player that I can be. This year I had a little drop in my 3-point percentage, but it’s also because I am trying to do other things on the floor.
Would you like to see Haifa play in Europe?
For me as a player it would be good, I think playing in a European league is good. But there are other aspects to it, the team, the owner; they see stuff that as a player, I can’t see. It’s their decision. If it happens I’ll be happy because it’s a different style of game. Also, you can see that teams who play in Europe also perform better in their domestic league because it’s good for the team chemistry and bonding. I hope it will happen but if not it’s okay.”
Every player has the dream to play in the NBA and if it will happen I will be the happiest player I can be, because of Maccabi Haifa, I had the chance to play at this level and because of that I think if it will happen it will it would be amazing but if not I aim to be a legit player in Europe, a EuroLeague player and just to be able to say I did the best I could and made the best career I could.
Representing Israel at the Eurobasket:
“It’s a big honor for me to be here and learn from the other players as well as the staff. I think that it’s the highest privilege for a player to represent their country and I don’t think there is a player that wouldn’t want to be part of the National Team. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid. I hope this year I will make the final cut and get my chance. If not, I’m sure that in the future I will get my chance.”
Getting ready for the touney:
“We have a month of preparation and for me personally it will be a chance to show why the staff invited me and prove that they made the correct decision in doing so. As a team it will be a chance for all of us to get to know each other both on and off the court. Some of us have been together for years, but we still have to get into a rhythm. We have a great staff and they will get us ready to go.”
Having the competition in Israel:
“It’s historical that the Eurobasket will be in Israel and it represents how big a deal Israeli basketball is in Europe. It shows how much they respect our basketball and hope that the whole country watches every one of our games. It’s a true honor to represent the National Team and I’m looking forward to an amazing experience.”
“I want to personally invite all of our fans outside of the country to come to Israel. We have an amazing country. I can guarantee we will give everything we can to win and move forward.”