Goodes needs to think outside of the box and drop the loyalty as Israel looks to down Germany in Heidelberg

Feb 27, 2022 | Holyland Hoops

The Israel National Team blew an excellent chance to move their FIBA World Cup qualifying record to a perfect 3-0 as they lost to Germany 71-67 in Tel Aviv in what was a must win matchup before the two sides play one another again on Monday this time in Heidelberg.

Gordon Herbert will have a number of his top level Euroleague players available for the back end of the home and home mini-series including Maodo Lo, Andreas Obst and Johannes Thiemann while Israel will gain the services of Tamir Blatt and Jake Cohen whom Maccabi Tel Aviv released for the second game as well.

Guy Goodes’s team had trouble all game long getting into any type of rhythm which would have allowed the Blue & White to take the victory, one that the head coach spoke about at the training camp press conference when he thought that it would be possible to go at least 1-1 or perhaps even take two wins. Well with the loss at the Drive In that just became that much harder.

Nothing seemed to click for Israel whether it was setting up the offense or going on the break while also committing 15 turnovers and not grabbing the timely rebound which allowed the Germans to score critical points. However, the biggest issue was the personnel on the floor during the critical times of the game as well as allowing Justus Hollatz and Robin Benzing the opportunity to score down stretch as they were unable to stop the duo in crunch time.

“We led in the fourth quarter and #21 (Hollatz) made a couple of big shots off the dribble to cut the lead and Benzing put them up,” Goodes said. “We had difficulties and we had too many ups and downs in this game.”

Justus Hollatz – Photo Credit: FIBA

Interestingly enough, the player who did the most damage to Israelis referred to by Goodes as #21 and not by his name, Justus Hollatz which begs the question if the Blue & White were ready for the challenge.

While the Blue & White players felt that they were adequately prepared for the game, it seemed that they were far from it as they headed into halftime down by a deuce and couldn’t hold onto a 5-point lead in the 4th quarter with the veterans on the court.

“I think that we were not totally focused. We had energy and we played well but we lost our focus at some point which resulted in falling to Germany,” Nimrod Levy said following the game. “I feel that we did come in ready but we didn’t have fluidity on offense and sometimes when a game starts that way it effects the rest of the game.”

Bar Timor – Photo Credit: FIBA

Bar Timor who returned to the National Team after not being a part of the Blue & White squad for some time when Oded Katash was the head coach also spoke about reasons Israel had trouble with the Germans.

“It was good to be back and it was hard for me with the story behind not being on the National Team. But I’m very happy to be back and disappointed it didn’t end with a win because that’s what matters, not if I’m back or not.”

“Their physicality was key. They hammered us and punished us with a lot of offensive rebounds and the small things. While they didn’t do things that were out of the ordinary they scored a few 3-pointers near the end of the game.”

“They kept the game alive with their physicality. We came in ready but it was hard size wise against them as they are bigger than us in every position. I think that we didn’t run and even when we got the stops we were exhausted.”

Shawn Dawson – Photo Credit: FIBA

One player who could have made a big difference in this game would have been Shawn Dawson who played only under 6 minutes and scored 5 minutes in his national team comeback after suffering a couple of very tough injuries. After playing well in the second quarter, for some reason or another, Dawson never saw the court again in a second half when Israel could have really used his services down the stretch with his physicality and ability to score in various ways.

In fact, man for man, Dawson was probably the player in best game shape save Tomer Ginat heading into this contest and his absence was quite surprising but Goodes stated that he was going to go with his tried and true players which he did but paid the price for doing so with a stinging defeat.

“Shawn began well and after that I went with lineups with players who have played up until now if it’s Rafi Menco or Guy Pnini who helped us take a lead,” explained Goodes who coaches both players with Hapoel Holon. “I don’t think one player or another was going to be the reason we would lose, but it would rather be small details.”

Gal Mekel – Photo Credit: FIBA

“Some of the players began to tire as we made a run and Gal Mekel is one of the national team’s central players who didn’t have one of his best games but he will always be a main player for us.”

Goodes had to be a bit more creative here with his loyalty to his tried and true veterans. There is no question that Pnini and Mekel have been the backbone of Israeli basketball for years. But just as Gordon Herbert did with the likes of Sengfelder who is having a spectacular season with Bamberg and Hollatz who is just 20 years old but gaining experience in the EuroCup with Hamburg Towers, Goodes had to think a bit outside of the box.

Dawson needed to be on the court down the stretch and the thought of dressing Hapoel Jerusalem’s Adam Ariel who is not only a lethal shooter from the outside where Israel took only 14 attempts, but has also ratcheted up his defense and become a premier defender. Unfortunately Ariel was released from the second game and did not travel with the Blue & White as Jake Cohen was given permission by Maccabi Tel Aviv to play in Germany.

Guy Goodes – Photo Credit: FIBA

On one hand, Goodes should be commended for staying loyal to his troops, but on the other he had to see that when things just weren’t working out with Mekel having gone 2/9 with 4 turnovers and Pnini taking only one shot in that change needed to be made.

Let’s hope he doesn’t continue to cut off his nose to spite his face in Heidelberg as he looks to guide Israel to a much needed win to get their World Cup hopes back on track.

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