Casspi national team 311.
(photo credit: AP)
Omri Casspi joined the Israel national team in training for the first time in
two years on Thursday and immediately did his best to try and lower the
expectations from his return to the blue-and-white.
rookie season in the NBA has made his comeback to the national team one of the
stories of the summer in Israeli sports, but the 22-year-old forward, who missed
last year’s EuroBasket campaign to prepare for the draft, was adamant on
Thursday that he wants to be just another roster member.
“We will win as
a unit and lose as a unit,” Casspi said.
“A single player will not win or
lose games on his own. I’m trying to take all the pressure off myself
because I have nothing to prove. I’m here to be part of the team and help it
achieve its goal of reaching the European Championships.”
its EuroBasket qualifying campaign away at Italy on August 2, leaving Casspi
with just 10 days to gel with his teammates, who have already been training
together for several weeks and have played five warmup games.
happy to be joining the national team after what has been a very successful
summer for me,” said Casspi, who added an extra 15 pounds of upper-body muscle
by participating in Joe Abunassar’s Impact Basketball Camp before playing for
the Sacramento Kings in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas last week.
was very excited ahead of my first training session with Israel. I’m here to
help the team in any way the coaches decide. Of course I hope to be a leading
player, but if the coaches decide I need to help the team from the bench I will
have no problem doing that. I’ll do whatever I’m told.”
expecting it will take him a little time to get used to European
more, but he is confident he will soon find his rhythm with the team and
realize its potential.
“There’s no doubt the European game is different,
but I grew up in Europe and I know the system we use in the national
“We have a very talented team with a good mixture of youth and
experience. I believe we can achieve some very nice things
Casspi will not have to wait long to play with his teammates,
with Israel facing Belgium in an exhibition game at Hadar Yosef Arena in
Aviv on Friday.
The national team will play three more preparation
encounters next week, facing Great Britain, the Netherlands and Belgium
Yosef in a three-day tournament which begins on Monday.
Israel coach Arik
Shivek was happy to wait for Casspi, and despite acknowledging on
the young forward will need a little time to acclimate to his new
he was confident Casspi will play a key role in the team’s upcoming
“We are very happy Omri has joined us,” Shivek
“Omri is a very diligent and intelligent guy so he will quickly
pick up what we have been working on. He will be an important part of