Israel vs Finland – Coaches & Captains talk ahead of Eurobasket

Sep 1, 2022 | Holyland Hoops

Israel will take on Finland in the opening Eurobasket game in Prague at 2pm local time as the wait to begin the European Championships will finally be over. The Blue & White will look to get off to a good start as they will be playing in a difficult group together with Serbia, Poland, Holland and the host Czech Republic.

Just ahead of tip-off the coaches and captains spoke about the expectations going into the first Eurobasket since 2017.

Guy Goodes – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Israel coach Guy Goodes began his press conference by discussing the keys heading into a tournament compared to just a couple of games during the qualification stage, “The windows are one thing and the championship is something different. At the EB where you see the teams bringing their best players are the ones that will be able to be together on and off of the court because there are a number of games. We gave to all come together for our national team and just think about the team’s agenda as a whole and nothing else. We have to really play tight defense and if we start there and do that well then we can be successful.”

How the Blue & White’s NBA player Deni Avdija can influence the team:
“Deni is an NBA player and has been under pressure before and of someone can’t handle the pressure then they are in the wrong business. The players understand that we have to play as a team and if we have one player who scores 30 points and we lose then we did nothing but if we gave a number of players with 8 points and we win that’s what we need to do.”

Winning and losing:
“When you win things are good around the team and when you lose then the pressure mounts and the issues begin. The players have to put their egos aside and it’s not easy but we all want to move onto the next round.”

Gal Mekel – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Israel captain Gal Mekel:
“We had a tough weekend after the games but I think that the EB can do some good for us. We have had a number of good results and our talent can give us results, but we gave to step up on our aggressiveness and while we have a lot of talent we are in different than any other team. If we can combine these two then we will have a very successful tournament.”

Message to the team:
“I haven’t said anything special but I did say that this is a very big honor to be here and we have that honor represent our country by doing what we love. We worked very hard and long for a number of years to get here and we have to enjoy being here right now.”

Lassi Tuovi – Photo Credit:

Finland Head coach Lassi Tuovi:
“It’s been a special summer as we have had Lauri for a few months since June and the preparations have been good. We have played well and we want to keep that up.”

About playing Israel:
“It’s a good basketball team and well coached. You can expect some kind of reactions and more individual players stepping up. I’m looking to a revenge mentality and ready to and get our game going and not worried about what Israel will be doing.”

Lauri Markkanen – Photo Credit: FIBA

Finland captain Lauri Markkanen:
“Plenty of tough games coming up and we are excited to be here. We put some work in and we are excited to play against the best teams in Europe and we will have to play 40 minutes against Israel.”

Playing in a big tournament:
“I think it’s fun to be playing like that and I’ve been playing for a few years in the brightest lights in the league and I’m looking forward to it. That’s why we play, to be in clutch situations and the spectators are expecting that from you as well.”

His role with the team:
“I’ve had a big role since the beginning and the team took me in. The fact that they have confidence and belief in me is great and I try to lead us even though this is a team sport. The role has been there from the beginning. I’m always trying to evolve as a leader and I’m trying to help the young guys go about the tournament.”

Petteri Koponen – Photo Credit: FIBA

Veteran marksman Petteri Koponen also spoke to The Sports Rabbi about Friday’s game:

“It has been a long summer and first we had World Cup qualifications and I can say that we reached our goal and now we are focussing on the next goal. We have eight guys who for this will be their first Eurobasket and you can feel the excitement that they are here and we are going to have a good tournament.

Seeing a different Israel than the one that played in Finland:
I think so they did their job and tried to change some things, I know they had a few poor games against us and Sweden so for sure they want to come out with energy and full focus and we have to be ready. They are a very talented team and mobile and similar to us as they gave big guys who can shoot from the outside and they will try to play fast and move the ball. It’s going to be an interesting game and it’s about the small details as always.

About Lauri Markkanen fitting in seamlessly:
The main thing is that we have a system that we start with our young national teams and they use the same system as the men’s national team so it’s easy for the young guys to come in and be ready always to help. It’s not only Lauri, it’s the other new guys and it’s easier for them and that’s the main reason for that.”

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