When Aleksandar Džikić was appointed the new coach of Hapoel Jerusalem at the beginning of the summer, the first question asked among the team's fans was what kind of team the respected Serbian coach would assemble in the capital.
After the team announced last night (Tuesday) the signing of the captain of the Estonian national team, forward Sim Sander Vena, as the team's sixth foreigner and the last piece in the puzzle, it seems that the answer to the question from the beginning of the summer has received a clear answer - in his image and likeness.
If the previous summer, Hapoel Jerusalem landed familiar and explosive names in the form of the former first pick in the draft - Anthony Bennett, or the lottery pick Thon Maker, who came to the Holy Land with a bag of views but had trouble fitting in and were released.
This summer, with Džikić on the lines, Jerusalem followed a completely different path.
The names that were signed in the beer are 'gray' on paper, but are committed and fit the spirit and method that the new coach is trying to instill.
In addition, of the six foreigners who were signed, two are European.
Not a normal phenomenon for the groups in Israel.
Vena, the sixth and last foreigner in the squad as of this point, continues the line of Jerusalem signings throughout the cucumber season - relatively anonymous to the Israeli market, gray on paper but committed and suitable for the Serbian coach's method.
— Hapoel Jerusalem BC (@JerusalemBasket) August 9, 2022
Džikić described the reason for the signing of Vena and his fit with the team when he said: "We believe that Sim is an excellent fit for us. He is a classic 'Stretch 4', very mobile and active when he is without the ball. He is able to contribute a lot in the small details, does not chase the statistics And understands the idea of playing with friends and for friends."
Comes from a basketball family
Sander Vena, 31 years old, is a member of a basketball family with parents who were basketball players and a brother who is also a player.
He received his basketball education in Lithuania in Zalgiris Kovna.
There he started at the academy of Arvydas Sabonis and from there he reached the senior team, where he began a period of loans to several teams.
In 2014 he returned to Zalgiris where he was for about three years.
He played almost 40 Euroleague games, but did not make the big break.
Estonian center Mike Koster came to the Euroleague this summer and will play too in Scania, but Vena is still a senior Estonian player.
He is the captain of the team and will play with them in the European Championship next month.
In the qualifiers for the World Championship, Estonia met Israel twice and lost.
Vena played in the game held in Tallinn and scored 13 points.
Another Estonian basketball player who is remembered from the time he played in Israel was Sergii Babken Center who had an excellent time at Maccabi Ramat Gan in the 90s.
This is the second forward that Jerusalem has signed in recent days, but Vena is different from Marks Meiris.
In fact, both complement each other and are completely different in one thing - shooting from the outside.
Sander Vena is an excellent three-point shooter who approaches 40 percent, Meiris really not.
The Estonian plays in positions 3 and 4, while the Latvian plays in positions 4 and 5, closer to the basket.
The past season in Varazza was wonderful for Vena who recorded numbers of the Italian Varazza team. The Estonian recorded handsome numbers of 12.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists in 38.6% beyond the three-point arc in 18 games.
After a rich past in Europe and experience of over 40 games in the Euroleague, Vena lands in Jerusalem.
He too, like the forward position, Marks Meiris, did not have flashy names on paper, but suited the coach's requirements for his path.
Now, at the age of 31, the Estonian will try to find a home in Israel.
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