The Israel National Team began training camp ahead of their pair of World Cup Qualifying games at Poland and against Estonia at home. The Blue-and-white currently sport a record of 2-2 having beaten the both teams earlier in the qualification process but fell to Germany in back to back matches a few months ago.
Head coach Guy Goodes who just came off of winning the Israel League championship spoke about getting back into the swing of things after a very short break, “I took a 4 day vacation and I got back to work. This is the final window and we will see if we will make it into the playoff or not, so these upcoming games are super important. I told the players that there will be a very big mental aspect to this window as there are some players who have been off for the past month, some don’t yet have teams and others just won a championship a couple of days ago. Everyone will need to put these things aside and focus on just the success of the team.”
Yam Madar will only be available for the first game of two before he heads to the Boston Celtics Summer League team and Goodes explained that for the best of the team it would have been preferable that the Partizan Belgrade guard be able to play both contests.
“It’s not ideal, to tell you the truth, but we had to make some compromises. For me the National Team is above all. This is the country’s national team and everyone is watching to see the players’ commitment just as it has been up until today.”
Forward Nimrod Levi who had a superb season with Hapoel Galil Elyon spoke about the message Goodes has been already trying to hammer into the players, “Guy spoke to us about the mental side and it’s very important as this is our profession. We have to come in and put the goals of the national team as the priority. It’s truly above all. Our personal goals have to put aside and we have to focus on the here and now.”
Levi also discussed coming together as a team after the players having been scattered over the last few months, “It’s great and I believe that we have been playing together for some time now so we know each other as we focus on one goal. We will be able to put all else aside as everyone here wants to win.”
Big man Idan Zalmanson looked ahead to the challenge at hand, “We have gotten used to Guy (Goodes) and understand what he wants from us. We will need to go into the games very, very aggressive, play solid basketball and continue to enjoy. If we do that I am sure the wins will come.”