The Israel Under-20 Basketball Team heads to Crete for the annual European Championships as head coach Elad Hasin will look to take his squad to the podium at the Heraklion Arena. The U20 side captured the competition’s title in 2018 and 2019 while also advancing to the final in 2017 in the same Greek facility where they will be playing in this year’s edition of the tournament. Last year, the blue-and-white under the direction of Oren Aharoni advanced to the semifinals with Noam Dovrat, Gilad Levy and Harel Rinsky leading the way.
“We’re excited to represent the Israel National Team which fills us with a lot of pride and also plenty of responsibility,” Hasin said. “We worked very hard in our preparation and we all know what it means to represent Israel and especially the Under-20 team with its incredible history. We are going into this tournament to give our all.”
“You need to remember that this is a different group of players and perhaps we don’t have the talent like we had in the past with Deni Avdija and Yam Madar, but we will bring different elements to the game such as aggressiveness and accuracy on both the offensive and defensive sides of the floor. We have the mentality and Israeli style of basketball that is fast paced running game with short possessions.”
Israel will be in a group with Turkey (Sat 9pm), Italy (Sun 4pm) and Belgium (Mon 9pm) as the 16 teams in the competition will be split up into four groups of 4 teams. After the round robin group stage, every team advances to the Round of 16 (Wed) where the first place team will play the fourth team and onwards in the opposite group which in Israel’s case will be the group with Spain, Serbia, Montenegro and Estonia. At that point the tourney goes into a knockout phase where the winners advance to the quarterfinals (Thurs) and the losers head to the placement games where the teams will battle against relegation to the B Level. The semifinals and final will be held on the second Saturday and Sunday of the tournament.
Nevo Sommerfeld will be the captain of the squad and will wear #20. The guard belongs to Hapoel Gilboa Galil and has played in the national team program for a number of years. The 20-year old played for the Under-18 team in a Challenger Tournament played in Israel during COVID a couple of years ago and last summer was part of the Maccabiah team that won a bronze medal.
Noam Yaacov played with Hapoel Jerusalem for the majority of last season after having been loaned out by ASVEL where he will return to for the upcoming campaign. The 18-year old is no doubt one of the most talented up and coming players for Israel and has also played for the senior national team where he will head to after the U20 European Championships. Last year Yaacov starred for the U18 and was selected to the All-Tournament team where he led the competition in assists and finished second in scoring.
Ron Zipper played with Hapoel Beer Sheva last season and is looked at as one of Israel’s up and coming shooters. The 20-year old guard starred in the Challenger tournament with an incredible 25.2 average while shooting 51% from beyond the arc and also was part of the last season’s U20 squad. Zipper played an integral role in the Beer Sheva’a Balkan League campaign helping the southern reds win the European title.
Danny Wolf arrives in Israel from the United States following his freshman year at Yale University. The 19-year old big man spoke to The Sports Rabbi ahead of the tournament in one extensive interview that can be enjoyed HERE.
Yuval Levin played for Elitzur Shomron last year and will probably once again ply his trade with the club this coming season in the Leumit League once again. The forward was a main cog in the Challenger tourney and also featured for the U18 squad as well.
Ido Harel played significant minutes this past season for Hapoel Eilat as the 20-year old point guard will look to make his mark in his first European Championship after having played in the Maccabiah last year and as he scored 23 points in Israel’s win over Slovenia in the exhibition games.
Daniel Guetta is also part of the Hapoel Gilboa Galil club as the 20-year old will play in his first European Championship after having taken part in the Maccabiah last season. The guard has developed over the years into a reliable player and is ready to take the next step in his young career.
Ariel Isaak was part of Elitzur Netanya this past season and has been a part of the national team program for a number of championships. The 20-year old played on the Maccabiah team last year and will look to be one of the leaders on this squad.
Yoav Berman is yet another player who made his way through Gilboa/Mayanot system and was part of Maccabi Ramat Gan this past year. The 19-year old forward was the U18 captain last season and is in his third straight season with the national team.
Ofek Gol made the jump to Israel’s top league with Kiryat Ata last season after beginning the campaign in the Leumit League. The 20-year old guard has been part of the national team program for a number of years and began to make his mark in the U16 competition back in 2019. Gol earned All-Tournament Team honors in the Challenger competition held in Israel leading the way in assists.
Avner Dror played with Maccabi Hadera last season and came out of the Hapoel Tel Aviv both department. The 19-year old forward played with the U20 team last season and will look to take his game to teh next level.
Nave Mintz is part of the Hapoel Gilboa Galil club and was an integral part of their youth team Gilboa/Mayanot over the years. The 19-year old big man will make his debut for the national team in this tournament.
Amit Sherf and Yoav Shamir will be Elad Hasin’s assistants for the tournament.