The Israel Basketball Association officially launched the FIBA Under-20 European Championship that will be held in Tel Aviv this summer at a festive press conference at the Drive-In Arena. The tournament will take place between July 13-21, 2019 as 16 national teams including France, Greece and Spain will take part in the event.
Israel will be defending the title that they won under Head Coach Ariel Beit Halachmi last year in Germany on home soil with a number of returning players. Deni Avdija will be one of the returnees who will garner much interest from the fans as well as the NBA scouts who will descend onto North Tel Aviv.
Avdija who just last week made his Senior National Team debut spoke about the upcoming competition, “It’s always great to be with the National Team. But I’m not looking at my age but rather at how I can be part of the team and also help lead my teammates while giving my best. It’s fantastic that the championship is in Israel and we will have home crowd support which will definitely help us.”
The Basketball Without Borders MVP continued, “We are also aware that it’s harder to hold on to the Cup than it is to win it. We will be looked at as favorites and we will do the best that we can. Personally, I can’t compare the tournaments that I have played in. I’ll bring my experience from last year, but it’s only important in terms of pressure. Each one fo us has to come into the tournament as best as possible.”
Yam Madar an up and coming player for Hapoel Tel Aviv will also feature for Israel, “It’s a big honor to play for National team. We will have to prepare well and be ready for the competition.
Beit Halachmi commented on the honor of coming back to coach the team once again, “It’s great to have brought the trophy home by winning the tournament last year. It’s an honor to coach the National team and to be able to do so in our home country is super exciting.”
He also was clear to state that the team is just that, a team; no one will be above the team, “I don’t know who will be on the squad yet, we will have a good team that will play similar to how they did last year. The National team as a whole is more important than one single individual. We will have a very good team and it’s a team, the individual talent isn’t what is important to me but the team itself. The National team represents the whole country and to the whole team together, not this player or the other.”
One of the most important figures in the development of Israeli basketball is Association President Amiram Halevy, “We have been focusing on the youth movement in Israeli basketball and last year we went from 2nd place to 1st place and won this title. We’re happy with how we are continuing to develop and I expect that there will be a huge celebration here over the summer.”
The person charged with making sure the competition goes off without a hitch is Daniel Benaim of Comtec who has worked on many sporting events in Israel including last year’s Giro D’Italia, the Judo championships, the 2017 Eurobasket tournament and more, “We are champions and that’s really amazing. We want to see the arena filled with fans wearing Blue & White and we want to have a quality tourney. Every time a championship comes here to Israel it can impact the way the country is perceived in the world. It’s a great advantage to have a competition here and we will have a fun and exciting time. We are champions and that says a tremendous amount.”