One question that has puzzled Israeli basketball aficionados over the past week is why did Jake Cohen leave Euroleague contender Maccabi Tel Aviv and sign with Monbus Obradoiro in Spain. If you take the move at face value, it makes absolutely no sense for both the Israeli national team forward who had been playing an integral part with the Yellow & Blue as well as for the Spanish club. But after a deeper investigation it’s clear what the two sides have plenty to gain from the collaboration as we’ll find out soon enough.
The Sports Rabbi spoke to a pair of journalists, Xan Ramos Pineiro of Solobasket and Spanish sports freelance journalist Mario Gomez who cover the team and the ACB league in general in order to find out what makes a club like Obradoiro tick and how Cohen will benefit by playing in the city of Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain.
“It’s a historic club in Galicia founded in 1970,” explained Gomez. “Obradoiro CAB returned to play in the ACB in 2009-2010. Despite having a big impact on the Province they were demoted to Spain’s second division LEB ORO that same season. A year later, they returned to the top league thanks to the noisy and faithful fans at Fontes do Sar Arena.”
Pineiro who wrote a comprehensive article about Cohen spoke about how the club has operated over the past decade, “The club is a very serious team and is highly respected for its success when signing players and for its coaches with head coach Moncho Fernández at the helm.” Gomez echoed his colleague’s thoughts, “Obradoiro is a club that carefully studies and analyzes each one of their targets and future signings. There is a lot of hard work that’s put in before bringing aboard a new player.”
Obradoiro’s coach and many familiar names
Moncho Fernandez has been the head coach in Santiago since 2010 and has brought in many players for various different reasons said Pineiro, “Many players look to come here to relaunch their careers and for better contracts which has happened in multiple cases such as with Mike Muscala, Salah Mejri, Maxi Kleber, Angelo Caloiaro, Matt Thomas, Eimantas Bendzius, Vladimir Brodziansky and Dejan Kravic.”
Gomez also reflected on Fernandez, “Moncho is an energetic coach with a vast ACB background, experience and is someone who is highly respected in Spanish basketball. This is demonstrated by the absolute confidence that the club has in him. They have a very solid scouting staff that have signed young promising players as well as medium-profile players who want to play a leading role and play in a big league in Europe. That could be the case for Jake Cohen.”
Why was Cohen attractive for Obradoiro?
Jake Cohen was actually a target of the club back in 2013 after he had graduated from Davdison University where he starred for four years. However, Maccabi Tel Aviv Aviv came calling and his Obradoiro career was put in hold until now. “The club was looking for a veteran player to complete the roster and work with the inexperienced young players like Laurynas Birutis, Steven Enoch and Mike Daum. And that’s Jake Cohen,” explained Pineiro. “Obradoiro offers Cohen the ability to be the star player just as Fernandez did with Dejan Kravic, who also arrived after playing a smaller role for Virtus Bologna.”
Gomez had this take on Cohen’s signing, “Jake is a similar player to former Obradoiro forward Slovakian Vladimír Brodziansky who moved well both in the paint and outside of it. His lack of mobility is made up with experience and offensive talent. Of course, it must have a positive impact on the team. Cohen is an experienced Euroleague player who performs very well with the continuation on the pick and roll, near the hoop, has a good catch & shoot from beyond the arc and is always attentive to offensive rebounding. He’s a versatile 29-year-old who has issues defending big players. Together with Steve Enoch, they will provide good balance in the paint of Obradoiro.
In addition, Cohen will reunite with former Davidson teammate swingman Chris Czerapowicz who already has one season under his belt at Obradoiro which will be another plus for the Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania native.
Will Cohen thrive in his new home?
The city of Santiago is one rich in history with a high quality of life away from the court but on it Cohen will have “responsibility and prominence,” said Pineiro. “Obradoiro and its fans like hard-working and disciplined players like Jake, so it will be a good fit.”
“This will be a great challenge for Cohen and yet another step in his career,” expressed Gomez. “Finally signing for an ACB club that has always wanted him and one that will give him the responsibility to be one of the leaders of the team is special. With minutes and confidence, the fans of Fontes do Sar will enjoy with Cohen. Spanish basketball is a big market and it’s a good first step.”