This is the first of many Coach Slam motivational speeches. I will identify teams throughout the year that need an extra push or some extra motivation from Coach Slam to get a win. This week, it’s time to give Israel that little boost as they prepare for EuroBasket 2009 in Poland. Their first opponent is Croatia. Let’s get fired up.
“Men we’ve gone over all the plays, we’ve practiced all the defensive sets, and we know who our opponents are. Now is our time to go out and execute. We’re in a group with tough opponents Macedonia, Greece, and Croatia. I’m not going to say this is going to be a walk in the park but if we can perform we should be able to advance. Yotam (Halperin) you’re going to be running the team from the point and we need you step it up your our leader out there. Lior (Eliyahu) we need big buckets out of you consistently, don’t let missed shots faze you keep putting up those shots. Yaniv (Green) you’re the leader of the big men and we need to get you guys to play together as a group. We’re going to face a lot of tough big men in this group with Nikola Vijcic on Croatia, Yiannis Bouroussis on Greece, and Jeremiah Massey on Macedonia. We need to play team defense in the paint to be able to control these guys.”
[Slowly walk around the locker room staring everyone in the eye]
“Israel has not always had the most success in athletics but men this is when that can all change. Your country is looking at our basketball team to come through and we can be a rallying point for everyone back home!”
“No one expects us to win our next game against Croatia let alone make it to the next round. Don’t you want to prove those naysayers, doubters, and cynics wrong? All we need to do is be one of the top three teams in this four team group, that’s it! I want everyone looking one game at a time though and first on our plate is Croatia. Roko Ukic is going to be handling the ball for them and we need to cut down on his penetration and force him to hurt us from the outside. Vujcic and Ante Tomic will be tough to handle in the paint with their size and versatility but we need to keep rotating over on defense in the post. Croatia plays completely as a team so watch for a lot of ball movement, team defense, and set plays. This is a very beatable team and if we can get on the break and run on them we can score a lot of points and get them out of their defensive sets.”
Does anyone have anything to say before we go out there?
Yotam: Let’s win this one for all the small countries that never had a chance to get here.
Yaniv: This is our game and our tournament to show the world what Israel basketball is all about.
I know we can win this game, you know you can win this game, so let’s go win this game!
[Loud yelling ensues before a “1-2-3 TEAM” chant erupts. The team runs out on to the court, prepared for victory.]