15 - 23
July 2017
12 Tamir Blatt (ISR)
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Tamir Blatt making his mark

CRETE (FIBA U20 European Championship 2017) - It's always daunting following in the footsteps of a famous and successful parent. As the son of legendary basketball coach David Blatt, Tamir Blatt knows this all too well. However, the emerging superstar is relishing the sizeable expectations and making his own mark in basketball.

Blatt has led Israel to an unbeaten start in the FIBA U20 European Championship in Crete with a succession of dazzling performances. The 20-year-old has arguably been the MVP of the tournament thus far and was the leading scorer during the Group Phase. In a tough Round of 16 contest against Italy, the point guard struggled with his stroke scoring just 9 points but dished out 16 assists to showcase his all-round weaponry.

The left-hander is difficult to stop possessing lethal range and good finishing skills at the rim but Blatt says he enjoys getting his teammates involved. "I prefer getting my teammates easy points than me scoring," he says. "It's all about winning. I want to improve every aspect of my game and just get better."

Of course, Blatt will almost always be linked to his famous father, who is currently coaching Darussafaka Dogus in Turkey. However, Blatt says both of his parents have been major influences. "My dad has been a great influence, giving me great tips as he has been everywhere in the world," he says. "But I want to give a shout out to my mum. She's everything to me and with me every day taking care of me. I love her to death."

Blatt recently signed a two-year deal with Israeli team Hapoel Holon, where he will be participating in the Basketball Champions League next season. "I'm really looking forward to it," he says. "I think I made a good decision to play for a team both in the domestic league and European league. I'm really excited about it."

Right now, Blatt is relishing playing for Israel and his stellar leadership in Crete has prompted a rising belief that he will inevitably become captain of the national senior team one day. Blatt says he loves representing his country.

"It's the best feeling, I feel blessed," he says. "We have kids our age that are in the army protecting us right now while we get to play basketball. This is amazing. For sure, it's a goal (to captain the senior team) but I'm focusing on this team and I'm so happy every minute I'm with this team."

In the Quarter-Finals on Day 5, Blatt will lead Israel into battle against Iceland, the tournament's fairytale team. Blatt says his team feels in a good space but won't be thinking too far ahead. "It's just one game at a time, we come in humble and ready," he says. "Our coaching staff does a great job in getting us ready. We always come into these tournaments as underdogs and I think we came ready.

"We are so together and playing really well as a team," he added.