Israel National Basketball Team Action!

Last night was the first official sporting event that Israel Sports attended! The game pitted the Israel National Team and Holland in a battle of two Israeli head coaches. One of my partners, Andy Gershman and I had a great vantage point sitting on press row right underneath the basket.  

The game was the first of 3 for the Israelis as a prep tournament for Eurobasket 2011 qualifying. The other teams in the tournament, Belgium and Great Britain played in the early game. Each team plays each other one time in this 3 day exhibition at the National Team training grounds at Hadar Yosef near the Ramat Gan National Team Stadium.

Omri Casspi of course was the big draw for Israel and it showed with a packed, packed, filled to the rafters (literally)  1500 seat arena. A great crowd showed up to see Israel’s first NBA player and they greeted him with a deserving round of applause.

The Dutch came out firing on all cylinders and their transition play caught the Israelis off guard and Holland went off to the races during the first quarter totally dominating play in the paint, on the wings and from outside.

The game changed slightly when David Bluthenthal stepped on the court and his defense helped stem the tide and put Israel back into the picture.

The second half was pretty much all Israel as Raviv Limonad, and Yuval Naimi sparked the offense and the home team pulled away for a 96-82 victory.

After the match we went to our first official press conference where we heard from the aforementioned Limonad discuss the keys to their victory, and we also heard from Arik Sivek the Israel National Team coach discussing the various nuances of the game.

I asked 2 questions in English which got a few heads turned our way which was good too for the other members of the press to see new faces in the crowd. Th questions focused on the team being surprised by the aggressive play of the Dutch at the beginning of the game seeing Francisco Elson, most recently of the Philadelphia 76ers absolutely dominate the opening minutes. The coach readily admitted that the team was not prepared for the tough play at the start and how they had to readjust their play and make sure they got themselves back into the game.

The second question centered around the terrific crowd in attendance. The coach said that they had thought about playing the games in the 11,000 seat Nokia arena, but decided against it in order to make people want to get the “hot” ticket! I say brilliant thinking!

All in all a great first day for Israel Sports We got to meet a bunch of terrific people including, David Bluthenthal (Israel National Team & Maccabi Tel Aviv), Chris Finch-coach of Great Britain, Ofer Shalach-Sport 5 colour man, Omer Benovitz-Sport 5 reporter, Sharon

And of course a BIG THANK YOU to Motti Aksmit, head of media relations of the IBBA & the Israel National team for making our first day terrific! Todah Rabah!

Thoughts from the Pulpit

1) Matt Garza pitched yet another no-hitter in MLB last night for the Tampa Bay Rays. this was the 5th no-no of the year (should have been 6) In 1990 & 91 there were 7, yes 7 no hitters in each year, pitched by some of the following, Nolan Ryan, Dave Stieb, Dennis Martinez, Bret Saberhagen, Fernando Valenzuela & Randy Johnson. Now that’s a pretty neat list!w

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