ANGT alumni: Yovel Zoosman, Maccabi Tel Aviv

Jul 06, 2020 by Print
ANGT alumni: Yovel Zoosman, Maccabi Tel Aviv

The EuroLeague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament has developed into one of the world's most prestigious stops for future stars in basketball. From 2003 onwards, more and more players have used the ANGT to showcase their talents at a young age and gain experience in international club competition. Count Yovel Zoosman of Maccabi Tel Aviv among the many who used the ANGT to propel his career, however, he is among the very few who played in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague before he traveled to his first ANGT game.

Zoosman joined the Maccabi Tel Aviv youth team in the summer of 2015 and also started to play sparingly for the senior team in Israel League games. A series of injuries depleted the Maccabi squad and set the stage for him to suit up for a EuroLeague game. On December 10, 2015, Maccabi was wrapping up an 85-65 rout of Brose Bamberg at Menorah Mivtachim Arena when Coach Zan Tabak signaled to the 17-year-old to take the floor for the final 3 minutes. Zoosman took the floor alongside Taylor Rochestie, Sylven Landesberg, Dragan Bender and Itay Segev to finish out the Maccabi victory.

Less than a month later, Zoosman got the chance to shine against players his age when U18 Maccabi Teddy Tel Aviv flew to Spain for the Torneig de Bàsquet Junior Ciutat de L'Hospitalet, one of the 2015-16 season's ANGT qualifying events. He was more than ready and took charge to the tune of 17 points, 10 rebounds, 5 steals and 2 blocks against U18 Joventut Badalona in their first game. In a tense showdown, Joventut took the lead with 44 seconds remaining and Zoosman missed twice after that as Maccabi fell 80-79. U18 Real Madrid walloped Maccabi 69-49 in the second game despite another monster effort from Zoosman with 18 points on 4-of-5 three-point shooting, 7 rebounds and 6 steals.

Despite the two losses, Maccabi had a shot to reach the semifinals if it could handle U18 Union Olimpija Ljubljana in the final group stage game. Zoosman put together 19 points, 6 boards, 4 assists, 8 steals and 2 blocks as Maccabi won 82-75 to finish 1-2 and second in the group via tiebreaker. The opponent in the semifinal was a tough U18 FC Barcelona, which would go on to win the ANGT that season. Zoosman was smothered and held to 8 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals as Barcelona won 62-89 to win the game and reach the final. Zoosman finished his lone ANGT tournament as a member of the all-tournament team. He was the tournament leader in scoring (18.0 ppg.), steals (5.3 spg.) and performance index rating (22.8), tied for fourth in blocks (1.3 bpg.) and placed seventh in rebounds (7.5 rpg.).

Maccabi was well aware of the ace it had in its hands and sent Zoosman out on loan for the 2016-17 season to get more playing time. He returned in the summer of 2017 and has been a part of the team's rotation ever since, with his role growing from year to year. Zoosman also shined in international competitions for Israel; he led the team to the silver medal at the European U20 Championship in 2017 and a year later was the MVP when Israel took the gold medal at the same event. Last season, he broke into the Maccabi starting lineup and used his long arms and defensive mindset to frustrate opposing teams' top backcourt scorers. With his all-around game and excellent defensive attributes, Zoosman figures to be a mainstay for Maccabi for years to come and a player that the club's junior teams and future entries into ANGT events can look to as a role model.