Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion held a virtual Zoom press conference to kick off the resumption of the 2019/20 Israel Basketball Winner League with Chairman Itzhak Peri, Head Coach Guy Goodes and Captain Oz Blayzer. Rishon was the first of the league’s 12 teams that will be conducting Zoom press conferences for the local media which included no less than 10 journalists.
Guy Goodes began the proceedings as to how his squad is preparing for their return to the hardwood, “We are focusing on ourselves and we haven’t had any issues to date and we are acting responsibly by following all of the rules and regulations that the league has given us. The players are as and we all understand what we need to do in order for the season to continue.”
“Some teams are in better shape, some less, but we are all at the same spot right now. We added a number of players to the squad and we will be playing in the championship playoffs. We want to remain healthy and get into the swing of things quickly as we ready for the stretch run. It’s not easy to get into shape in 19 days but we are all working on it.”
The only new foreigner on the squad was Zach Hankins who came in to replace James Kelly. Goodes explained why he selected the former Nymburk center, “When we knew James Kelly wasn’t coming back we thought of going for 4.5 like James or a 5 like Diamon Simpson who played in the paint last season. We hadn’t defeated Hapoel Jerusalem or Maccabi Tel Aviv yet this season and I decided to go with more of a 5. We had a number of players to choose from but we knew Zach had a lot of energy and size and I felt that this was the right move for us. Zach can play the pick and roll and block shots as well.”
Finally, Goodes mentioned that the club’s only exhibition game will take place on June 16th against Nes Ziona as he didn’t want to overload the players with games as they get back into shape. He also mentioned that there will be a number of game before the playoffs and they will use those as tuneups.
Oz Blayzer was asked about his thoughts about getting back to playing, “When I heard about the option to play I felt that I had to without a question. I’m speaking for myself, but if I was going to have the chance to continue the season I was going to.”
The captain also spoke about getting back into the swing of things, “We stayed in shape before getting back to regular training but we still know that it will take time and effort form everyone.”
Did he watch the Israeli soccer league’s return this weekend? “I didn’t watch but sports in Israel are so important for so many people who were missing them and it’s great that it’s back.”
Rishon Chairman Itzhak Peri was very happy to get the league back up and running after a lengthy break due to the coronavirus as he spoke about the quality of ball fans can expect to see, “I believe that we will see good basketball, but more than that the people of this country want something to be a part of. I am certain that the teams who supported the return of the league was the correct decision. The players did their part as did the teams in order to complete the season and we then hopefully can go into the following campaign with a positive feeling.”
“We don’t know what will be going forward. I know that I have to build a team in a few months and I don’t know exactly how I can do that and that’s why we wanted to get the league going again now. We can bring back our fans and sponsors and we are all together in this, but the government has us at the bottom of the pecking order. We have to make sure that we can have soccer, basketball and handball all back in business or else we may head back 30 years.”
As for European competition, Peri stated that the club will once again feature in continental play but he doesn’t yet know where. “The EuroCup has approached us when they saw we ended in 3rd place but we will have to see if we will stay in that completion or move to the Champions League but our desire is to stay in one of the European competitions. However, we can only see what will be over the next few months due to the financial situation.”