The Israel National Basketball Team kicks off their Eurobasket 2021 qualifying campaign at Poland on Thursday night. In addition to Poland, the Blue & White play in Group A together with Romania and Spain as they look to advance to the European Championships.
Head Coach Oded Katash took over the country’s National Team program just ahead of the last World Cup qualification tourney and will attempt to build off of that campaign which saw the team go though a major overhaul with the introduction of younger players.
“It’s very exciting,” said Katash. “The National Team is always special. This will be a very challenging campaign and to prepare the squad with just three and half practices is something we have been getting used to. We will have to be very focused against Poland as they have high shakily shooters.”
Katash also looked back at the previous tournament, “I’m sure the experience we gained as a team will help us going forward. We will have a very strong National Team in comparison to other years.”
Captain Gal Mekel also expressed how excited he was to get the competition going, “I’m thrilled to be back with the National Team after differing from mono. I’m here with renewed energy but we have to get the job done.”
Both center Idan Zalmanson and Rafi Menco expressed their feelings about the first qualifier in Poland. “It’s always great to play with my National Team teammates,” Zalmanson said. “We will be playing in a tough atmosphere against a team with depth. But we are ready and very hungry to succeed. We’re aware that they have very aggressive platers and we will be prepared for that.”
“This team will of into their second campaign together,” stated Menco. “We all want to begin the campaign on the right foot and this is a very important game against a strong team.”