Getting the job done: Israel takes two to open up World Cup Qualifying campaign in style

Nov 28, 2021 | Holyland Hoops

Israel and Guy Goodes did exactly what they needed to in window #1 of FIBA World Cup qualifying; go a perfect 2-0 alert knocking off Estonia 79-69. Nothing more and nothing less would have been satisfactory as cruel as it sounds, The Blue & White had to win both of these games in order to make sure that should they advance to them second round, their record would place them as high as possible to get that much closer to punching their ticket to the top tournament for the first time since 1986.

They got the job done, in style.

Beating Poland at hime after going down by 15 points in the first quarter was good and dropping Estonia on the road was even better. Israel looked good, they looked strong and they didn’t let an early deficit in their first game set the tone for this window. They let there response do that.

Having a group of guys that have played together for a few years now gives Israel nice advantage over the other national teams as Goodes was able to take what Oded Katash had started and just continued on seamlessly like nothing had changed since they advanced to the 2022 Eurobasket earlier in the year.

“That is one of our main strengths,” Rafi Menco who scored 10 points explained following the game. “We have a lot of good players who have been together and we are very tough as a team.”

Guy Goodes agree with his forward, “It’s very tough to build chemistry in a short period of time, but our advantage is that we had been playing together for a while and that was the key to our success.”

Guy Goodes – Photo Credit: FIBA

The only negative coming out of these two contests was that Tomer Ginat slipped on one of the stickers on the court and early reports from the Israel Basketball Association is that he has a torn abdominal muscle and will undergo an MRI back in Israel.

The stickers have been a massive issue for many players as they ahem tweeted out and gone to social media many a time to complain and ask, actually beg the various governing bodies to remove them from the court.

Jake Cohen shared his thoughts in the Tweet below:

But back to the game.

Israel was able to move the ball a ton better than last game against Poland and dished out 10 assists with captain Gal Mekel responsible for ten of them. Not only did he have 10 helpers, he also had 10 points and was one of four players to do so with a very well balanced attack that saw 8 players with 8 points or more in a true team effort victory.

“Everyone on the floor gave everything and they have to get credit for that,” Goodes mentioned. “We were a bit shaky against Poland but we really shared the ball today with 22 assists.”

Roman Sorkin – Photo Credit: FIBA

With the addition of John Dibartolomeo and Roman Sorkin who joined the team after Maccabi Tel Aviv’s loss at ALBA Berlin, Goodes had another top flight ball handler who also has the knack of hitting clutch shots plus a big man who is earning Euroleague minutes in only his first season playing in the top flight European competition.

Both made their presence felt with a combined 18 points and 10 rebounds as Sorkin filled in for Ginat admirably and Dibartolomeo nailed a pair of clutch triples down the stretch when Estonia had cut the lead to just 2-points, 67-65 with under two minutes left in the game.

“We are happy that they came to this game,” Goodes commented about the duo. “Thanks goes to Maccabi Tel Aviv for making that happen and I don’t take it for granted. They contributed 18 points and both brought energy from the bench. I am really happy that they brought in new blood to help to win.”

Rafi Menco – Photo Credit: FIBA

Menco also spoke about being abele to stay concentrated as the game time clicked off of the clock, “We were focussed and followed the game plan. During the tough moments when Estonia hit threes we stayed together and stay focussed. We have a lot of good players who can punish the other team in the paint but we have a lot of strengths.”

Do the pair of opening wins put Israel in the drivers seat in this group with Germany, Poland and Estonia? “There are no favorites in this group. We have to be focused for every practice and possession because we don’t have that much time together.”

Goodes echoed Menco’s thoughts, “There are no favorites but teams that win games will have an advantage. Every window may be different with what players each team we will have. It was super important for us to step in and be focussed here as Israel lost by 16 points the last time we were in Estonia.”

Everyone did step up from top to bottom and Israel did what they needed to, win both games and now wait until February where a stern test will be waiting for the Blue & White. A home and home series with Germany.

Israel Celebrates – Photo Credit: FIBA

Sign up for our newsletter


You may also like…


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!