Rivlin to Israel's U20 players: You have made us proud

President hosts Israeli under-20 basketball team, which won European Championship second time in a row. 'I take my hat off to you all.'

Nitzan Keidar ,

Rivlin with coaches and players of Israel's U20 team
Rivlin with coaches and players of Israel's U20 team
Amos Ben Gershom, GPO

"You have made us so proud. What a wonderful team you are," the president said this morning to Israel's U20 basketball team, winners of the 2019 and 2018 European Championships. The team came to Beit HaNasi today, Tuesday with the two trophies after beating Spain in this year’s final. The excited players and team coach Ariel Beit-Halahmi, along with the coaching staff, were joined by the Israel Basketball Association’s professional manager Pini Gershon and chairman Amiram Halevy.

"In all the great teams I have seen, the big stars could not have succeeded without teamwork," said Reuven Rivlin, speaking to coach Ariel Beit-Halahmi. "If the system does not work together, it cannot truly succeed. Your ability to create an unprecedented level of teamwork was so impressive. We saw attack and defense that cover each other, not letting the other side breathe.”

"I take my hat off to you all, not only on behalf of the State of Israel, but also as a person who has been a sports fan for 70 years, from the age of 10. You are the embodiment of working together as a team." The president also told the players about his granddaughter Ziv, who plays basketball herself, and was so excited to hear that the team was visiting. "I will not have done my job as a grandfather if she does not get a photograph with you," he said.

"It's a great honor to be here and we're so happy you invited us," player Yotam Hanuki told the president, and talked about their hard work and support from the crowd. "Everyone was committed to representing the country proudly. All through the competition, we played in front of a full house. We gave our all in every game, and we did a great job. Thank you to everyone who was part of this, from the audience for their support to the coaching staff and support teams who were part of this championship."

Deni Avdija, the tournament’s MVP, added, "Building up to this competition, this group has become a family, a single unit. We back each other all the time, and even when some of us had better days or less good days, everyone helped and supported each other."