Veteran floor general Gal Mekel readies for Israel challenge ahead

Aug 28, 2022 | Holyland Hoops

The Israel National Team is readying for the upcoming Eurobasket tournament that begins on Friday in Prague and captain Gal Mekel is looking ahead to what he sees as the blue-and-white’s potential as the squad faces Finland, Poland, Serbia, Holland and the host Czechia.

Mekel has seen plenty in his basketball career from playing in the NBA with the Mavericks and Pelicans as the country’s second player in the world’s greatest league to winning the Israeli league championship with both Hapoel Gilboa Galil and Maccabi Haifa while also being named league MVP twice as well.

Just prior to Mekel taking to the floor against Sweden in a World Cup Qualifier, the 34-year old veteran point guard spoke about his expectations, Deni Avdija along with how the Israeli talent stacks up against the other teams.

Gal Mekel and Guy Pnini – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

“The talent here exists and we have depth which is something we didn’t have for many years,” Mekel began. “Can we show up in money time and do the job? Then it may be a very exciting Eurobasket but we are in a very tough group with Holland and Finland who have an NBA player, Poland we know, Serbia there’s plenty to talk about but we just have to grab this opportunity.”
One of Israel’s advantages is that they can pass the ball from not only the guard position but also from the forwards as well, “We don’t just distribute the ball from the guard position which you can see on the court. That is something great to see which gives us even more energy which is a great advantage for us. It’s one of the great elements of the game.” 
Mekel has played in four Eurobasket and is very much looking forward to the upcoming competition, “I’m very excited and I’ve waited for this championship for a very long time. For me it’s a way to come full circle as we have seen how we have grown together as a group over the past few years. I want the younger guards to enjoy the experience and I can see that the national team is in very good hands.”
Last Eurobasket bacon 2017 didn’t go as planned for the blue-and-white as they were knocked out in the group stages that were held in Tel Aviv, “Of course we had expectations and it was here in Israel but it’s not sitting in the back of my head. We beat Slovenia in an exhibition game before the campaign and now we won all five games heading into the championships but it means nothing. We have to come into every game ready to go.”

Deni Avdija – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Deni Avdija will be counted on to be an important factor in the Eurobasket just as Omri Casspi was back when he was playing in the NBA, but for the Wizards forward he will have a bit more of a challenge as he hasn’t played with the national team in quite some time.

“Deni and Omri had star quality but Deni brings us something different, his talent and abilities. He loves to pass the ball and make decisions at a very high level. For us as a team that has played together for some time, Deni wants to come into the squad as he hasn’t been here for some time. Things have changed and he’s still a young player but we all have a goal.

However, Mekel explained that since the majority of the team has been together for some time they may have a bit of an advantage over the other teams, “There no question that this has been an advantage and we really enjoy being together. It’s fun to be with each other and we get to put aside things from our regular clubs and we have been able to really understand how we all play. We have worked very hard to get to this point and each one of us is giving their all for this moment.”

Guy Goodes – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Head coach Guy Goodes took over the squad from Oded Katash who had began to renew and reinvigorate the national team program back in 2017 and Mekel feels that the transition has been seamless, “We began the process with Oded and Guy really came into the role very well. Everyone gives their input and we have the same base as before, we believe in Guy and we are all following his lead.” 
All in all, Mekel is looking forward to leading Israel into Prague to begin the 2022 Eurobasket as he feels that the squad may be able to do something special, “Talent doesn’t always determine who will win, there are a dot of dynamics both physically and mentally. At the Eurobasket in France some years ago, we were able to really accomplish something when we beat Russia. We know that we have an entire nation behind us. It’s just amazing.” 

Sign up for our newsletter


You may also like…


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!