After a pair of games last night, the Israel Basketball League has 4 more games over the next
two days as Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Beer Sheva play at the Carmel mountain, Hapoel Tel Aviv visit Hapoel Gilboa Galil, Hapoel Jerusalem welcome Nahariya and Nes Ziona takes on Bnei Herzliya.
Ahead of the Haifa and Beer Sheva clash (20:00) the two clubs held a press conference that included the head coaches and captains of each team.
Greens coach Daniel Seoane spoke about being prepared to open the new campaign, “Difficulties are standard for this time this year and we are working hard, we will be more than ready for Beer Sheva. The coach also talked about his rising star Roan Sorkin, “Roman has a long way to go and his scoring talks by itself as well as his three point shooting. We are pushing him and he has to get better on defense. He has a lot of tools but he isn’t close to what he can be yet.”
Veteran Avi Ben Chimol also reflected on the season to come and playing once again for Haifa, “It’s a club that I have been with and one that has run very well at a very high level. I’m happy to see that things have even gotten better. Daniel coach’s in a way that I haven’t yet experienced and I’m happy to be a part of the team and learning something new.” He also spoke about playing with Donta Smith, “We can both play without the ball, the rest of the players need to be in the right places and we have a team with very High IQ with or without the ball.”
Ben Chimol knows that the fans will be missing this season, “It’s difficult and we know how much the fans mean to us. We know that it does good things for the city and I’ll really miss them. Hopefully the situation will come to an end soon. We are here for you and we are waiting for you.”
Over at Hapoel Beer Sheva head coach Rami Hadar looked at his new squad, “We have a good group and we are looking to take the next step with a young squad. We are in a challenging period of time and we hope to see everyone at the arena as soon as possible.”
Hadar also spoke about the time it has been taking to get the team to jell as one unit, “We played some exhibition games and we lost in the Balkan league but I feel that we are starting to play better and we will keep the same squad together and w will go with that squad for now. It’s taking us a bit more time than usual but the preparation time has been longer so that has helped us. The official games are in front of us and we have players that are about to hit their potential. A number of players have come from smaller teams but that gives them incentive while there are players who have played with me for a number of years.”
Captain Spencer Weisz is ready to get the new campaign underway, “I’m extremely excited and every new season brings challenges and the city has been great and receptive. I think we have a great squad and we have played well so far and have shown progression.”
As for how Beer Sheva stacks up against the rest of the league, Weisz wants the focus to be on their own team first, “There are great teams in the whole league and teams have shown great capabilities but we want to focus on ourselves. If we play tough defense we will be fine offensively but we have to look at ourselves. There may be teams with more experience but we will be fine.”
Hapoel Gilboa Galil welcomes Hapoel Tel Aviv (19:25) in another terrific game that will be played this weekend. Both teams also held season opening press conferences as well.
Head coach Lior Lubin spoke about the importance of not comparing last season to this new one plus how important the club is to the Gilboa region of the country, “I don’t want to compare this season to last season but rather look ahead to this new campaign. We want people to identify this team with the Gilboa region. A team that will battle and also most importantly be modest. We will want to play tough and we want the fans to appreciate our play. There’s going to be plenty of games coming up and all of the players will have a chance to play and make their mark on the court.”
Co-Captain Yotam Hanochi also addressed the assembled media, “I want to thank everyone and we miss our fans. Hopefully they will return to the arenas once again. It’s a dream to be here once again as captain and I have matured as I feel great physically and I am beginning the season healthy and ready to go. I want to help the club win and take this club to where we belong.”
Netanel Artzi who will also serve as captain this year spoke about coming together as a team, “We were able to really work on things over the last couple of months as we’ve have come together as a team. We will see how things continue to come together throughout the season. I want to give the maximum to the club and I’ll do what I have to both on offense and defense.”
Hapoel Tel Aviv coach Ioannis Kastritis who has made a huge impact in Israel since arriving at the team in the middle of last season looked ahead to the new campaign, “We feel that now the real action begins after the Balkan league and we want to do our best when we head into the game with Gilboa which is our first official game of the league. The players are going to give their best, but it’s frustrating that we have some injuries with Talib Zanna and Jon Diebler aren’t 100%. I want to wish everyone to stay healthy.”
About his new squad:
“The team we want to see is the same that we had last season from when I arrived. The two words that come into my head is ‘fighting spirit’. We want to fight hard and prove that we really want to win games, body language is important and that what I want to see the entire season.”
How to separate themselves from the rest of the pack:
“It’s critical for every team to find its chemistry as soon as possible and our goal is to try and do our best to get in the same page as soon as possible. We want to all feel we have the sam shoal and target on the floor, but it’s takes time. Things are getting easy for everybody and we have players have great motivation and they know what to represent. For me it’s very important as to how to deal with the tough moments that we will meet in the season. We have big trust and I believe that very soon we will be able to see on the court what we have planned for this team. We need to find consistency because there will be lots of up and downs.”
Captain Yam Madar who has entered the NBA draft also discussed the season on the cusp, “We want to represent Hapoel Tel Aviv as best as we can and do the best throughout the season. I hope that my personal success will also translate into the team’s success and I hope that I can get to the highest levels. I want to show the younger guys that it’s possible to reach your dreams but I’m here to work hard to win any games.”
Also on Sunday Hapoel Jerusalem will face Nahariya (21:10) and on Monday Nes Ziona will host Bnei Herzliya (19:15).
Nes Ziona coach Brad Greenberg talked about the team taking time to come together while also the possibility of making changes to the squad in order to improve, “I feel like our group is coming together a little bit slower than I expected. I feel good today as we had two spirited practices and I am optimistic that we will begin playing better basketball.”
“We looked at Jordan Murphy as the five and with his aggressiveness he will be effective, but he hasn’t played up to our expectations and he knows that. He will have to play against stronger and taller players. He was a stellar rebounder in college and we didn’t look at him a a four, we thought we had it covered but we will be evaluating week to week.”
“I don’t like to make changes and I like working with guys and see how they can get better but we have struggled with the quality ball we have to play and I point at myself. So that includes to at least being open with roster management and look to be as strong as we can be. Every team evaluates and we have to be prepared and we have to focus on working to get better. That’s professional basketball.”
The keys to success:
“We have to keep teams from scoring in the 90’s and there are too many chances and extra possessions. It’s tough to beat a team when you give a team 20 more shots. There are a lot of things to work on and that is what practice is all about. It’s not just one thing, we have to be more competitive and physically competitive.”
“I’m more excited by the challenge and I think our team can make strides. We have a good group of people but our capacity to play a grittier game is there, the players know that but we have to get to be the team that we want to.”
Veteran captain Tal Dunne also looked at getting better as a team:
“We all have to continue to jell as we have a new coach and we are going to have to show what we have done in practice on the court. We started slowly but we are in a process of learning each other and we have a team that will fight and that we will learn each other and we will bring the results with time. I have no doubt about that.”