“We can win the Eurobasket” – Deni Avdija has high hopes for Israel after a 5-0 exhibition slate

Aug 18, 2022 | Holyland Hoops

The Israel National Team defeated Romania for the second time in three days as the Blue & White polished off the visitors 105-61 as they ended their exhibition campaign 5-0 ahead of a pair of World Cup qualifiers and the 2022 Eurobasket group stages. Guy Goodes’s team were a bit sluggish out of the gate as Romania hit their shots from deep to grab a 29-23 lead after the first quarter but a 24-0 run over the final 8+ minutes of the first half saw Israel take a 54-37 lead into the break as they rolled to the win with seven players featuring in double digits.

Yam Madar led the way with 18 points, Nimrod Levi added 12 points and 13 rebounds, Deni Avdija who made his return after an illness chipped in with 12 points as well while Tamir Blatt scored 11 points and dished out 8 assists in the win. Rolland Took paced Romania with 18 points and Lucas Tohatan scored 12 points in the defeat.

Guy Goodes – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

“I’m happy that many players are in good shape after coming together over the course of August,” Guy Goodes began. “I’m content with all of these games and they are important as we have seen the ball move between the players. We have to keep working on improving ourselves and being tough. There isn’t much difference between the starters from the players coming off of the bench which is a huge advantage. Some National Teams need their dominant player to play for 35-37 minutes in order for them to win. But that’s not the case with us as we don’t have a superstar. Deni is coming from the NBA but it’s not Luka Doncic who is a superstar. Our strength is to play as a team and that is what will help us win games.”

“We can win the Eurobasket, Avdija stated. Although I am not Luka Doncic and we still have a long road to go, I have been working very hard and I believe that this is the time to take the National team to get accomplishments together with my teammates.”

Nimrod Levi reflected on the game, “I feel good and I think we are coming together as a team with time and these games. In each game and practice we are working on improving and that’s what we will do in the next few practices in order to come into the game with Finland ready to go.”

Roman Sorkin – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

“We played with each other for five games and they were important as it was against another team in a 5 on 5 situation and it wasn’t practice which we have had plenty of,” Roman Sorkin explained. “We were able to make adjustments on the defensive side of our game and on mismatches along with adding elements to our offense. It’s always good to play against another team and implement what we worked on in practice.”

Tamir Blatt’s spoke about the game and the upcoming games from his viewpoint, “I’m happy that we were able to get out of the hole and comeback to play our basketball. We played well and moved the ball. We believe in ourselves and we want to have a good Eurobasket where we will leave everything on the court. We will do our best and hope that we can go as far as we possibly can.”

“I think we played well over the final three quarters,” Rafi Menco commented. “This was another game for us to continue to become more connected to one another. Now we are looking at the next game as everyone here wants to help the national team. I hope that the results will speak for themselves.

Yam Madar – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Romania got off to a good start as Rolland Torok was busy for the visitors while Roman Sorkin countered for Israel as the score was all knotted up at 14-14 midway through the first quarter. Deni Avdija and Yam Madar came on for Israel but Romania had the hot hand from the outside as Lucas Tohatan, Dragos Diculescu and Radu Virna all scored from beyond the add to take a 29-23 lead after ten minutes of play.

Diculescu and Tohatan went from deep for Romania but Yam Madar started to heat up on the inside and from the outside to pull Israel to within one 37-36 with 5:02 left in the second quarter. Nimrod Levi, Rafi Menco and Jake Cohen all got busy inside as the cut to the basket for layups while John Dibartolomeo dialed up long distance to cap off a 24-0 run over the final 8:27 minutes of the half to take a 54-37 advantage.

Deni Avdija – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Avdija and Dibartolomeo scored inside, Tamir Blatt nailed a corner triple and Guy Pnini added points as the Blue & White went up 72-40 midway through the third quarter. Blatt went from deep while Madar and Levi added points to give Israel a 84-46 lead after thirty minutes of one sided action.

Levi scored inside and outside while Madar and Avdija teamed up for some showtime, as Noam Dovrat and Iftach Ziv came on to finish off the 44-point win.

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