Workmanlike Willy Workman: “Aggressiveness is the mindset”

With the Israel Basketball Final Four beginning Monday night with Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion facing Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv playing Maccabi Haifa, the Sports Rabbi had a chance to some of the personalities that will man the sidelines and those who will be on the court:

Ofer Rahimi, of Maccabi Haifa has been a true inspiration for those coaches working their way up to one day become a Head Coach. Rahimi, had spent six years as the team’s assistant and now as a first year boss, he will guide the Greens into a semifinal matchup with Maccabi Tel Aviv. Being a part of the 2012/13 Championship side plus advancing to the Final Four the following season, Rahimi has certainly been at the highest of levels but now he’s here as the number one fiddle and spoke about the special atmosphere of the Final Four, “It’s very special, I feel that God blessed us by us moving into the playoffs at the last moment and it’s really been great so far.”

He also spoke about John DiBartolomeo who was named to the All-Winner League Team along with Gregory Vargas who was named defensive player of the year, “John is a real hard worker. He’s modest and I’m happy for him. Vargas is our general. He changed the game with his arrival for us to become a very strong defensive team.”

Dov Halickman Photography

One of Rahimi’s workmanlike players is Willy Workman. Not a bad name to have as it describes Willy perfectly, “I have heard that my entire career, people have punned my name because of how I play. It’s how I play and what I have to do to be successful. I’m not the most talented guy, my skill set isn’t the best, but if you never quit, work hard and go after everything you can really carve out a niche for yourself.” Workman who win the NCAA Division III Championship with Amherst as a senior in 2013 also reacted to his intensity on the court especially during the playoffs, “It may be the playoffs, but I feel like I have played like this the whole season. I walk into each and every game like that.”

Coach Rahimi has been a very important piece of the Haifa puzzle and Workman acknowledged how critical he’s been to the team, “He is the coach and you know that the coach is a very important part of the basketball team. He is such a positive person and that positive attitude while picking us up is the difference in what makes or breaks it. Every time we would go through a rough patch he would acknowledge it and say to us that may have been a tough loss but all we can do today is get back to where we were.”

Workman arrived in Israel in 2013 and has played for Hapoel Galil Eylon, Hapoel Tel Aviv, Maccabi Ashdod and now Haifa. Reaching the Final Four for the first time is certainly an accomplishment, but in a one game Semifinal anything can happen. The guard spoke about what the keys will be against Maccabi Tel Aviv now in the playoffs compared to the regular season, “Aggressiveness, that’s the mindset you need to have at all times. Whether it’s a preseason game or any other game you have to instill that mindset into yourself and adopt it all the time. Then it’s an easy transition to the playoffs. It’s a fast game out there and you don’t really have time to think about it.”

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