You just never know when it will be your turn to shine, your turn to take the big shot or your turn to play hero. It can happen at any given time and against any given opponent and that’s exactly what happened to Yam Madar in the second game of the 2022 Eurobasket.
The Partizan Belgrade guard and Boston Celtics draft stash, put on quite the show in Israel’s 74-67 win over Holland after having played just a few in the blue-and-white’s first game win over Finland.
Now at 2-0, Israel are on the cusp of advancing to the knockout Round of 16 in Berlin, Germany but will most probably still have to notch a win in one of their three remaining group stage games against Poland, Serbia and the host nation, the Czech Republic.
Heading into the fourth quarter and with Israel down 51-50, Madar took control of the proceedings and rolled off 8 of his 14 points including a very long distance 3-pointer from the edge of the center court logo to give Guy Goodes’s team a 6-point, 70-64 lead and effectively stab the dagger deep into the hearts of the Holland fans.
— #EuroBasket 2022 (@EuroBasket) September 3, 2022
Avdija also had plenty to say in that final frame with a clutch triple of his own, but this was a night where Madar was able to bask in the glory after having had to watch most of the win over Finland from the pine.
The fact that Madar was able to come up big and make the right plays while also scoring critical baskets was something that the team needed badly in order to pull this win out of the proverbial fire.
A loss to the Netherlands would have been absolutely devastating and crushing which would have left many an Israel fan shaking their collectives heads in disbelief. But Madar rose to the occasion while playing Robin to Avdija’s Batman while landing his triple on highlight reels all around the basketball world.
“Deni came to get the ball and I saw the clock going down and not much goes through your head when you launch that shot,” Madar said as he described his thought process when he let the ball fly from way downtown.
Goodes has certainly seen his fare of big shots over the course of career and as much as he kept a calm demeanor when he shared his thoughts on Madar’s he certainly must have been thrilled inside not wanting to share his emotions.
“I’ve seen so many players that can hit these types of shots, some of which were very important like Guy Pnini against Besiktas last season and that’s part of basketball. That’s the beauty of sports and the game of basketball where players make great plays. One time it’s Yam Madar, another Deni Avdija while it can also be Tamir Blatt or Guy Pnini. In any one game a player can come and do some wonderful things and that’s what’s great about us.”
Jake Cohen who played a solid first half but didn’t see the floor in the second against Finland played important minutes down the stretch in the win over Holland also spoke highly of Madar, “I was really proud of Yam. To keep yourself mentally ready that shows a lot about him, that shot at the end he made was huge for us, I’m excited to see what he can do for us.”
Avdija summed it up best about a couple of Israel’s young guns, “Credit to Yam and Roman who didn’t play very much last game but came ready to fight and play like this is huge for us.”
The Washington Wizards forward himself also had a superb game with 21 points including going 7/7 from the charity stripe has been playing a bit banged up he admitted, “I’m tired but this is what I like to do. I like helping my teammates win. I have some small injuries and I’m pulling through with a few Advil pills and some injections but I’m ok to go and it shows just how important the national team is to me and to the fans who are watching us at home to represent the country. But all in all I have this instinct that when I have the ball I’m not that tired.”
As for exhaustion, the players are definitely not used to the back to back scenario which is something that Avdija is very used to from being in the NBA. But nonetheless, no one is making excuses about exhaustion.
“Deni is used to playing back to back, but physically he’s still not there,” Goodes said. “He had COVID and he has said that it’s been hurting him a bit but he also hit a big 3-pointer. Bottom line is that we are trying to get to the next round any way possible.”
Avdija, who had played with Cohen for quite some time starting in his mid-teens spoke glowingly about Israel’s representative in the NBA, “Deni has been huge for us especially in crunch time. A big time performance from him. Making big plays down the stretch is important for us. Deni has grown a lot. I know him since he is 16, great to be a spectator and be a small part in that growth.”
Madar who seems to play his best and most confident basketball when Avdija is beside him on the court also commented on how much the NBA forward means for the national team’s success, “We need Deni and he gives us so much. I trust him in the clutch.”
However, now that game two is in the rear view mirror, Israel needs to make sure that the6 dint repeats some of the mistakes that they made in these last two games where they didn’t begin the game aggressively and allowed their opponents to do pretty much as they pleased over the course of the two opening quarters.
“We did not play how we wanted to play,” Cohen remarked. “There are a lot of things we can do better, getting the win is most important but to continue in this tournament we need to play better. We got to look at how we can start the game better. We did not play our style.”
Madar echoed his teammate, “We showed a lot of heart to win this one but we didn’t plan it to play out this way tonight, however, we were able to win.”
Coach Goodes went with the attitude of looking at the win as a win no matter what and making sure that there will be a positive atmosphere around the team and about the squad in the glass is half full and not half empty manner.
That attitude is something that has permeated the team as the players have set aside their egos for the common goal of just simply playing for the country on the grandest continental basketball stage.p and that is where Tamir Blatt interjected about Madar and the enormity of his shot and his important the guard is to the collective.
“I have to say something about Yam. He didn’t play much in the first game and I’m so proud how he stayed tough mentally and came in to this game ready to go. He put on a show and really helped us to the win. I’m so happy for him because is shows just how strong he is.”
“What he just said perfectly describes the Israel National Team if you understand what I am saying. You won’t see this anywhere else.”