On Thursday night, the Israel Under-18 team will play their third game of the FIBA Challenger Tournament which is taking place in Tel Aviv. The competition is taking the place of the annual European Championships that were postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the stars of the Blue & White squad is Adam Vilen Scherbakov who will be heading to the United States for college this coming fall at Northwest Florida State. On Wednesday night, the 17-year old guard scored 24 points going 6/10 from 3-point range to lead Israel over Portugal 102-67 and move their record to 2-0.
The guard who will be playing in his first tournament for Israel, spoke to The Sports Rabbi about participating in his first national team tourney along with making the decision to go to America along with the team’s performance so far in the competition winning by a total of 64 points over the opening pair of games.
“We practiced really hard so it’s not such a surprise. We know what the level of our play is and it doesn’t matter if the other teams are bigger or more athletic. We are coming into each game with our heart and soul and so far the results speak for themselves.”
Israel shot almost 63% from two and over 40% from three while dishing out 29 assists against Portugal and shot 53% from the inside, 40% from outside and also handed out 29 assists in their opener versus Lithuania showing that the team is in very good shape.
“It’s because we have been playing for two months straight,” Scherbakov explained. “We just ended our youth league season and we didn’t have a vacation break as we went right into training with the National Team. We began preparing for this tourney for 2-2.5 months and you can see that we are in great shape. But let’s see what will be in the next few games.”
Playing in front of a crowd nowadays isn’t something that any player takes for granted and that was the same for Scherbakov, “This is something totally new and creates such great feelings that I can’t even explain in words. You understand how much you love the game of basketball and how much you want to be doing this as a profession into the future. That is what this campaign so far has done for me, to just plainly put love basketball even more.”
The sharp shooter also reflected on what it’s wearing the Blue & White, “Playing for the fans is something so important and it’s important for us to represent the State of Israel with honor as there will be many friends and family coming to the games as well. We are playing for the country and that’s crucial for us.”
Making the move to the United States for college is not one that is frequently done by Israeli hoopsters, but the Emek Yizrael star who was selected as a second team all-star in the youth league explained the decision to take his talents across the Atlantic Ocean.
“Firstly, for me it’s to do Plan B and not to only invest myself into one single option. There are injuries in basketball, to represent Israel, the club that I grew up in and to develop as a player in the United States with the best of the best surrounding me.
“Of course there are some concerns, whether it’s being far away from friends and family or missing my mother and father’s home. But I believe that I will be fine as I am a very social person and I don’t have any issue making new friends and meeting new people. It will be a challenge but it’s one that I am expecting and that I am really looking forward to as this is something that I really and truly want.”
Yuval Shaham CEO of UVision Sports helps facilitate the opportunity for up and coming Israeli ballers to attend college in the US. However, that is only one small part of the relationship that Shaham fosters Scherbakov explained, “Yuval first of all is more like a friend. My relationship with him strengthens day by day as we will go to restaurants and hang out together. He helps market the players and has so many great connections in the United States with coaches where he shows them our videos, talks to them and tries to get the best opportunity for each and everyone involved.”