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Albert Schweitzer 2012: Israel Preview

April 2nd, 2012 · No Comments

In our next preview, we will take a look at the Israeli team. Shai Levi explains us why this Israeli team might the at the beginning of a new successful generation.

The Israeli National Team is shaped and developed mostly from the basketball associations’ youth academy program. This is the third consecutive season that the young ballers, who’ve been cautiously selected from the various youth programs across the country (except for Maccabi Tel-Aviv’s), are training together at the Wingate Institute, and playing back-to-back seasons in Israel’s third pro-ball league.

At the Albert Schweitzer tourney, in addition to the already overflowing talented roster, Israel’s academy players will receive more ammunition such as point guard Naor Sharon, who dazzled through last summer’s U16 European Championship games (DIVISION B), eventually leaving Maccabi’s youth project for impressive farm team of the French Pau-Orthez . And Tel-Aviv’s impressive young center Idan Zalmanson, who already played (and scored) with David Blatt’s squad, and is projected to become Israel’s Senior National Team’s star big man.  The third rising star who didn’t take part in the Academy program, but is part of the roster is small forward,Yaniv Solomon, of Maccabi Rishon Le-Zion. Solomon, who just recently joined the team’s practice sessions, quickly proved to be at the same level as his peers, while in some aspects, he’s shown signs of excellence.

Israel however will lack the presence of its dominant guard/forward Igor Kouleshov, who served in the Academy’s program last year, but currently plays in the United States at Florida’s Segamont high school. During the summer, Kouleshov is expected to rejoin his former national teammates for the European Championship.

Head Coach Ariel Beit-Halachmi, who took over the team last year, has been undergoing impressive success. Nearly two weeks ago, the young stars demolished 2nd seeded Maccabi Ra’anana by 17 points after leading by as many as 30 during the encounter.

Led by the Men’s Senior National Team’s Trainer Yoram Menachem, Israel showcases a versatile and highly athletic squad compared to the past years. They tend to play full-court pressure defense and love to run the run-and-gun offense.

A handful of Israel’s professional coaches whom seen the young Academy hoopers in action believe that some of them already posses that talents required to compete and develop in Israel’s Division One elite teams.

Guards:

Naor Sharon(17, 6’4) – Was expected to join only for the tourney, but Israel’s associations aggressive efforts brought the young talent back from France last week to practice with the team. Sharon is considered a young version of the former NT senior guard Raviv Limonad in his physicality and athleticism. Despite being a year younger than his teammates, there was never any doubt whether or not Sharon would represent his country.

Shai Zalz (17, 6’2) – Starting point guard for the Academy. A smart leader, who plays with lots of poise. Feeds off high energy and aggressiveness.

Ishai Kislev(18, 6’3) – A tall guard, who plays the point. Very talented with ball with impressive handles.

Daniel Lawrence Sealian(18, 6’2) – A great scorer. Showcased enormous talent at friendly tournament in Dan Bosch, when scoring 17 points in one quarter. Grew up in the Southern city of Eilat, but moved with his family to Netanya and has been playing for the Academy for three years now. Owns an American passport.

Maxim Kikus(18, 6’3) – A member of Israel’s U16 NT. Underwent a tough back injury this past summer but has fully recovered and is slowly coming back to his usual self. An Athletic guard with great shooting form.

Forwards:

Rafael Menco(18, 6’6) – A flexible and very talented forward, who developed in Hapoel Jerusalem’s youth academy. An All-range shooter. Despite being a year younger than the rest of the squad last season, he was the NT’s most dominant player.

Yaniv Solomon(17, 6’5) – A versatile forward who’s explosive on the fast break. Can push the ball and create his own shot. Plays with lots of poise.

Mayan Shraga(17, 6’3) – One of the best athletes and the toughest defenders in the Academy, who already showed signs of guarding dominant Division One foreign players.

Eliav Ohanon(18, 6’5) – The heart and soul player of the Academy. A player who defines “All for one, and one for all.” Very mobile while on the hardwood, yet his problem is the lack of inches while playing at both forward positions.

Yossef Saydof(18, 6’5) – Plays with great shooting abilities and has no range limitations.

Centers:

Idan Zalmanson(17, 6’9) – The future prospect of Israel’s Senior NT and has already been playing for Maccabi Tel-Aviv in the Israeli and Adriatic Leagues. Has an impressive physical structured body and is a rare site to local Israelis. Has already showed signs of playing with and against dominant Division One centers.

Adar Ben-Aliza(18, 6’8) – The main and starting big for the Academy’s team. A massive and technical player with a decent long range jumper, who still needs some polishing to his game.

Shai Levi  is the basketball reporter of the biggest sports website in Israel- ONE.co.il for the last five years.

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