“There is something special with this team” Israeli veteran Guy Pnini looks ahead to World Cup campaign opening this week

Nov 22, 2021 | Holyland Hoops

Israel National Team veteran Guy Pnini is ready to begin yet another campaign at the tender age of 38 years old. But don’t let that number fool you as he still has plenty of gasoline in the tank especially when it comes from knocking down 3-pointers or providing leadership to the next generation.

Guy Pnini – Photo Credit: FIBA

Pnini spoke to The Sports Rabbi just ahead of the Blue & White’s games against Poland at home and Estonia on the road as the forward talked about Guy Goodes coming on as the new head coach, who he would like to bring along from his club team Hapoel Holon and what it means to him to begin a another campaign.

“Putting the honor aside of playing for the National Team, it’s a lot of fun and that is why I am here. It was always a dream to be a part of the Israel National Team and as a child you always dream of playing for the National Team. But there is something special with this team, the dynamics, the lockerroom and road trips. I am jealous of those players who are just at the beginning of their journey here.” 

Guy Pnini – Photo Credit: FIBA

As the elder statesman of the team, Pnini has been with the Blue & White since the 2007 Eurobasket but that doesn’t mean donning the Israel jersey is somewhat old hat. “It’s not that much different being a part of the National Team now than when I was younger. Sure there was more pressure back then because you had to fight for your spot and even now at 38 it’s still not guaranteed as I have to come and fight for that place. But I am now at a point where I see things differently and if I am not going to play much I am here to make sure that the atmosphere around the team remains upbeat and positive.”  

Israel’s new coach Guy Goodes takes over from Oded Katash who did a terrific job rejuvenating the national team program a few years ago and Pnini is looking forward to the challenge ahead, “Guy Goodes brings leadership and I had the opportunity to play with him when I was at Maccabi Tel Aviv. He has the character to take us to the right places and I am happy that he is the coach. He is deserving of the position. We all loved playing for Oded Katash and it’s unfortunate that he is no longer with the team, but he has a lot of credit as to the path and process that the National Team went through. I hope that we will do as best as we can.” 

Chris Johnson and Guy Pnini – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Finally, Pnini shared which foreign player he would take from his current Hapoel Holon team and it came as really no surprise as to who is was, “I think that the answer is crystal clear. Chris Johnson. He is a player that can play at the highest levels and brings it all to the game along with being an anchor in the lockerroom. He does all the things that other players can’t, if it’s defending every position, finding a basket out of nowhere when the team is stuck, taking an offensive rebound. I would take him everywhere with me.”

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