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“The Balkan League saved Israeli basketball” Guy Goodes talks ahead of Rishon Le’Zion’s game vs Jerusalem

Dov Halickman Photography

Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion held a press conference ahead of the Balkan League qualification tournament that gets underway on Tuesday night. Guy Goodes squad will welcome Hapoel Jerusalem (19:45) to Beit Maccabi as the coach along with new captain Darryl Monroe addressed the media.

“We are treating the Balkan league like any other league and whoever came up with the idea saved Israeli basketball from furloughing players and sending some others back home. We have been practicing and we are very happy to have a chance to take part in this tournament.”

About bringing in a 4th foreigner:
“We will bring another player but we are waiting for the right timing and the teams are in a tight financial spot. We have some candidates for the team.”

Pulling out of the EuroCup:
“It wasn’t an easy decision to give up on the EuroCup and we wanted to continue in Europe but no one really knows what’s going to happen and there is a big wave of corona now and we are seeing what is going on. It’s not going to be an easy year for teams with tight budgets. The EuroCup had many demands and wanted us to do many things, flights, tests, hotels etc… It’s so much money and if we had to go to another country to host a game it would have been very costly. Many people here didn’t sleep at night over the decision and we had one player (Sean Armand) who left because of that. It was a smart decision and hopefully they will find a vaccine and then we can continue in Europe in the years to come.”

Changes in the Israeli players on the team:
“There’s no question that two main players left in Oz Blayzer and Adam Ariel who were able to make the jump to other teams. I’m happy for the two of them but we brought back Golan Gutt in place of Adam and Noam Avivi has done nicely and will take the place of Oz and Noam Dovrat will be a much bigger piece to the puzzle. Nimrod Tishman is continuing with us as well we brought in a young center Ido Flaisher. We may be younger but we want to continue to be aggressive on the court and we made sure to keep some of the mainstays but there will be some ups and downs just as there are every year.”

Darryl Monroe spoke about what it meant to become the captain of the team:
“It’s an honor to be a captain of any team, but to be connected to this club for many years to have this role is a big honor and we can win and continue the tradition that has been built.”

About leaving the EuroCup:
“It was a tough decision and the club made the best decisions for the team. You can appreciate that it was safety first and I’m disappointed but the team did what was best for all of us.”

Noam Dovrat’s continued development:
“He just has to continue to grow mentally and physically. He will continue to get that with more experience and getting help from me. We have great expectations and he has to continue to work and I think he will be ok.”

Hapoel Gilboa Galil will also open up Balkan League play as they host Maccabi Haifa (19:35), Nes Ziona welcomes Hapoel Holon (19:30) and Bnei Herzliya travels to Hapoel Haifa (19:40).

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