We’re very optimistic: Israel National Team heads to Estonia for Olympic Pre-Qualifying

Aug 9, 2023 | Holyland Hoops

The Israel National Team begins Olympic Pre-Qualifying this Saturday night as they will tip-off against North Macedonia in the first of three games taking place in Estonia. The blue-and-white are in a four team group that also includes the Czech Republic and the host nation as the top two teams will advance to the final four in Poland for a place in the Olympic qualifying tournament next summer ahead of the 2024 Paris Games. 

Just before the squad’s journey abroad, both the head coach Ariel Beit Halachmi and acting captain Bar Timor looked towards the upcoming competition.

“We had a very serious training camp and I’m very optimistic,” Beit Halachmi began. “I believe in the players that are here on the squad. We’re looking forward to beginning he tournament.”

Bar Timor – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

While the national team will be missing many players due to injuries including some that occurred during training camp, Timor is looking to win regardless of who is with the team and who isn’t.

“The entire situation about the injuries is tough and it’s too bad that some players won’t be with us. The expectations are our win and we are going into these games to win. There is less talk about us and perhaps that will do us some good, but we shall see soon. We are a very young national team that got together over a short period of time and you never know how a tournament like this will develop. We need to come into the first game as best as possible and win it and from tyre we can see.”

Ariel Beit Halachmi – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

According to the bench boss, the keys to the team’s success will be playing their style of basketball, “We are heading to the competition with players that have been here for the entire camp and they are going to play our style of basketball. There were times when they have been able to play how we want and other times where they weren’t but if we can play solid defense and run we can succeed.”

“We have to get off to a good start and see how the tourney goes,” Timor said. “There are a lot of guys that got an opportunity which they all took and now they will have a bigger role this time around. Everyone that is here will no doubt give 100% effort in order to do as best as we can. A player like Yam Madar may be young but he has plenty of experience and will contribute and help out as much as he can.”

Yam Madar – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

As for the opening game against North Macedonia, both coach and captain know that the game will run through TJ Shorts who won the Basketball Champions League title last season with Bonn along with taking home both the BCL and German League’s MVP award.

“The main player is TJ Shorts,” Beit Halachmi commented. “We are familiar with him but they have other important and central players. All of the national teams that we will be playing are at our level and that’s why I’ve said that we are very optimistic.”

TJ Shorts – Photo Credit: BCL

“We will really get into the preparation for the Macedonia game now and we all know that TJ Shorts is their most important player. It won’t be an easy game and we have to be as focussed as possible as it’s the first game and it can really influence the rest of the competition. They have many good players and we have to start off on the right foot,” Timor shared.

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