Of family and community: Julian Gamble reflects on Herzliya season

May 30, 2023 | Holyland Hoops

There is no question that Bnei Herzliya had a challenging campaign that ended with a playoff series that was as veteran big man Julian Gamble described as, “the epitome of our season”.

There were plenty of ups and downs, injuries at every turn, rumors of the coach departing, players being moved, Champions League play, Domestic league action, Sandy Cohen’s late season emergency surgery and a tough quarterfinal series with just 7 players against Hapoel Jerusalem.

But through everything the squad stuck together and were able to really give Israeli basketball a series to remember where every single player left it all out on the floor.

Julian Gamble and Bnei Herzliya – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Whether it was Chris Babb, Quinton Hooker, Maurice Kemp, Julian Gamble, Robert Carter, Yair Kravits, Oded Brandwein or head coach Oren Aharoni they all put in their best as the season wound down.

Game 4 didn’t end the way they would have wanted it to with a blowout fourth quarter that saw them fall 86-61, but Herzliya had comeback twice from 20 points down and had absolutely no gas in the tank as Khadeen Carrington carved up the host team’s defense for 16 points in the final frame.

Miami product Julian Gamble was a surprise addition to the team just a few days into the season and his wealth of experience helped Herzliya over the course of the year. The reaction was the same when Chris Babb signed the year before. From almost advancing in BCL play, punching their ticket to the postseason and overcoming all of the top teams in the league with wins over Maccabi and Hapoel Tel Aviv, Hapoel Jerusalem and Hapoel Holon.

The center always had a kind word and a positive outlook whether it was win or lose, but most importantly he always gave it to us straight and to the point as he did after game four and Herzliya’s season came to an end.

Julian Gamble – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

“This game was an epitome of our season,” Gamble began. “We had some ups and downs all season long as was this game and ultimately we ran out of gas. Seven players against the best defensive team in the league is tough. We know that only one team can win the championship, I see this as a journey which was successful along with the memories that we create are what will last from this past season.”

Gamble also reflected on his initial thoughts when the final buzzer sounded, “Disappointment, but we fought to give ourselves an opportunity to win. I thought about what I could have done better and while this game went out of hand in the last quarter, the first three games were all close. Even though they beat us 3-1 we saw how close it was.”

Herzliya was a team with a number of veterans who had been a part of the squad the prior year whether it was Babb, Hooker or Kemp and that made a big difference in helping Gamble integrate in the team while also enjoying Israel.

Chris Babb – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

“There was incredible chemistry in the club. Mo and Chris said that it’s a family club and we see it and feel it every day. We may have had losses along the way but the energy we received from the club was incredible as they never stopped loving us.”

“I’ve known Chris for 5-6 years. I saw him when he was at Ulm when I was at Bonn and befriended him,” Gamble continued. “He is one of the absolute best shooters in Europe and even in the world of basketball. He works hard and doesn’t let the circumstances dictate his play.”

Following game four, Gamble went over to Jerusalem coach Aleksandar Dzikic and spoke with him for a couple of minutes in a conversation he shared, “I like him as a coach a lot and they are organized and they bought in. I have huge respect for him and my heart went out to him due to the loss of his mother. We play this game and give our all but it’s all about family at the end of the day.”

Julian Gamble – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

There is no question that Herzliya put family first and ensured that their players received the best from the staff day in and day out. The overseas basketball community is just that, a family that needs to look out for one another whether one is based in Germany, Israel, Italy, Spain and where ever else they may be.

It’s a small community and one that is a lot better with Julian Gamble in it.

Notes: There are two schools of thought about Herzliya coach Oren Aharoni’s future with the club. There are some that say he will continue and others say he will not. Aharoni has been linked to the Hapoel Holon job as Guy Goodes may be leaving for Metropolitans in France while Israel National Team coach Ariel Beit Halachmi is linked to the Herzliya. In fact, Beit Halachmi was at the club’s last game and sat with veteran Israeli coach Nadav Zilberstein who could end up being an assistant with Beit Halachmi at Herzliya. The dust will clear very quickly over the next couple of weeks as the coaching carousel continues to turn.

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