The Israel National Team will look to move into the second round of World Cup qualifying when they tip-off against Estonia on Sunday night (20:30) at the Drive In Arena in Tel Aviv. After falling to Poland on the road 90-85 in overtime, Guy Goodes’s squad will look to break a 3-game losing skid and move their record to 3-3 and join the likes of Slovenia, Finland and Germany in the next stage of qualifying.
On a night that there were not many Blue & White players that stood out, one that did was Yam Madar as the Partizan Belgrade point guard checked in with 14 points as he drove to the hoop on numerous occasions and looked to create opportunities for his teammates in close to 29 minutes on the court.
To get a sense of Madar’s season in Serbia, The Sports Rabbi was in touch with Milos Jovanovic for his expert analysis on the Israeli who scored 7.5 points, grabbed 2.5 rebounds and dished out 2.4 assists in 50 games played across all competitions:
Yam Madar came to Belgrade with a certain reputation on his shoulders. The basketball media in Serbia was well aware of his elite prospect status and even before he arrived there was talk of Partizan landing the “Sabra Curry”. The fact that Celtics brass came to attend few games in Belgrade also aided that buzz.
Madar, however, proved that he still has ways to go. His role, especially in the start of the season, was a bit undefined. Partizan opted to play without a conventional point guard, so the job was shouldered mainly by Aleksa Avramović and Madar, both not exactly classic floor generals. With Madar, his lack of experience at playing 5×5 elite level hoops was obvious, as he struggled to create in half-court sets, would routinely over-dribble and then settle for tough shots or handoffs once out of ideas.
Up until February, Madar’s season was a wash. There was the odd good game, but most of the time he looked like someone who was struggling to adapt to a higher level of basketball. The fact that he was scratched off the roster for the national cup tournament (Serbian national competitions mandate a set number of foreigners) reflected this as well.
From that point on, he started jelling within the squad and contributing more. He learned some basics of the Partizan offense, and while never really a proficient point, he was creating his own shots and executing some simpler sets. He started feeling more confident from midrange and driving to the basket. Also, his defense also came to the fore – he was always a keen defender, and he was a proper menace in the passing lanes, as he used his long limbs to create an advantage.
Madar is talented – there is no doubt. His moves ooze basketball and you could see he’s intelligent and connects the dots easily. However, he seemed to be more efficient in less restrained systems, where he was given some freedom to roam and could rely more on himself and his own ability. With that in regard, he came off as a street-ball player who is mixing it up with the pros. But a very good street-ball player.
Should he ever make it to the US, I suspect he will find it easier over there – there is more freedom assigned to ball-handling guards and with his dribbling ability and quickness, he’ll exploit the narrower NBA courts better. But if he’s to succeed at the Euroleague level, he’ll have to work on his point guard ability as I believe this will be his main assignment under coach Obradović. He has shown promise and expectedly he struggled in his transition as this was the first time he was playing under the weight of certain expectations. The tools are all there, so whether he delivers – is entirely up to him.