There’s no “I” in Beit Halachmi’s Israel National Team

Aug 14, 2023 | Holyland Hoops

Things couldn’t have gone any better for the Israel National Team so far in Olympic Pre-Qualifying as they now sport a 2-0 record to the delight of the blue-and-white faithful. After Roman Sorkin starred in the first game which was a dominant win over North Macedonia, it was Bar Timor and Yam Madar’s turn to take center stage and down Czechia 80-67 in a game that heads coach Ariel Beit Halachmi’s squad had under control from the opening tipoff.

With one more group stage game remaining against the host Estonia, Israel is in prime position to punch their ticket to the Final Four in Poland as they currently sit atop their group with a 2-0 record while Czechia is in second at 1-1, Estonia is in third place also at 1-1 while North Macedonia is last with an 0-2 record. Israel is in the drivers seat and can clinch first place with a win against Estonia or a loss of up to 7 points.

Roman Sorkin – Photo Credit: FIBA

Should Israel lose to the Estonians between 8-23 points they will finish in second place and if they lose by 24 points or more then will miss out on the Final Four in Gliwice. The semifinals are slated for Friday against the top two teams from the group playing in Poland that consists of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Portugal and the most nation while the final will be played on Sunday for a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympic qualifiers next summer.

“I think we played really, really well in the game against Czechia,” Beit Halachmi said. “We played a great first half and we are playing as a team and defending well. But we have to look forward now to the next game and not worry about the point differential. The guys understood the level that they would need to play and they raised it by playing an incredible defensive game.”

“We played great back to back games and these results will really help us going forward,” acting captain Bar Timor said. “We came in very focused and many guys here are hungry to succeed. We played great defense and we will stay modest and now ready for Estonia.”

Yam Madar – Photo Credit: FIBA

Yam Madar also chimed in, “I’m very happy that we have been able to play a pair of really good games. We are in a very good spot to advance to the next stage and that is what our direction is after doing what we needed to in the opening games.”

Israel entered the tournament without a number of their regular players due to injury or other commitments including Deni Avdija, Yovel Zoosman, Rafi Menco, Tomer Ginat and Tamir Blatt to name a few and so far the group that Beit Halachmi has put together has done a more than admirable job to get the blue-and-white into prime position to move on in the competition.

It’s been real teamwork for this team who have definitely erased the letter “I” from their lexicon as the bench boss didn’t want to even comment about any single player’s performance.

Ariel Beit Halachmi – Photo Credit: FIBA

“We are a team and these guys want to prove themselves and everyone is really enjoying being here. Everyone who plays is relying on his teammates. This is a team game and each one of us is playing well thanks to the other players,” Beit Halachmi said.

However, it was clear as day that the head coach has been able to receive stellar play from both veteran and youngster alike thus far whether it has been the likes of Bar Timor or Yam Madar just to name two.

Timor who had not been part of last year’s Eurobasket squad under Guy Goodes and was not counted on by the previous coach Oded Katash has been arguably the most important player for Israel since coming back into the fold over the course of the past half year. Now under Beit Halachmi, Timor knew that in order for Israel to be in the position it is in now, he had to raise the level of his game.

Bar Timor – Photo Credit: FIBA

“I felt that I needed to give more of myself after the exhibition games and we looked at videos and did some extra preparation with the staff and now with the results so far I’m happy that we are pushing ahead with all of our strength.”

Madar also has taken on a critical role for Beit Halachmi’s side as the guard who is beginning his first season with Fenerbahce and his third overall in the Euroleague agreed that it’s a true all for one and one for all effort under the coach that had won back-to-back Under-20 European Championships back in 2018 and 2019.

“The guys want to be here with each other and play with one another,” Madar explained. “Everyone is happy for each of our personal successes and there is a good atmosphere in the national team camp which is important for the upcoming games. It’s just fun to be here. Our goal was to have a good tournament and we want to go to the next stage but now after two good games we need to do that in the third.”

Israel National Team – Photo Credit: FIBA

While Israel are just inches away from the next round, Beit Halachmi is well aware that they have still not reached the promised land so to speak as they still have to play the hosts who will throw everything they’ve got to head to Poland.

“Estonia is playing at home and the arena will be full and they have some very good shooters. We can relax tomorrow with an off day and prepare properly for that game.”

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