Miron Ruina joined Hapoel Eilat right after the coronavirus break following a spell with Elitzur Yavne and made an impact from the get go that will lead the 22 year old to extend his stay with the WINNER League team for the 2020/21 season. The Sports Rabbi had the opportunity to speak with the Red Sea big man as he readies for the upcoming campaign.
In the summer of 2018, Ruina was part of the Under-20 Israel National team that captured the European championship under head coach Ariel Beit Halachmi. The center scored 9.3 points and added 6.7 rebounds in just over 24 minutes per game in the tournament but saved his best for last when he notched a double-double with 14 points and 14 boards in the 80-66 victory over Croatia in the final.
“That was an incredible summer and the biggest accomplishment in my short career. I was proud to represent Israel and that we made history winning the title for the first time.”
Ruina also took part of the 2017 competition that took place in Crete, Greece where he played a much smaller role with the team that made it all the way to the final where they fell to the hosts 65-56. “We also played well in that tournament and in both cases we played as a team, defended properly and attacked the basket, but we needed just a little more luck. I learnt a lot with coach Oded Katash including properly doing a pick and roll and how to defend.”
The 2017 team featured an number of up and coming players including the MVP of the tournament Yovel Zoosman and 2020 NBA Draft prospect Deni Avdija, “Yovel is an incredible person and a terrific player who is always sharpening his skills and working hard. Hopefully he will continue to succeed. As for Deni I don’t think that I can add that much. He’s heading to the NBA draft and will play at the highest level.”
Ruina will be reunited with coach Beit Halachmi in Eilat and he’s looking forward to working with him down south, “It’s super exciting for me and we really connected well with the Under-20 National Team. I’m happy that I can play under him once again.”
Born in Helsinki, Ruina moved to Israel soon after he was born with his Israeli father and Finnish mother and began to pick up basketball in school, “I played with my friends at recess and I began when one of them told me to join them and I really enjoyed playing. Since then I’ve had a love affair with the game of basketball.”
Ruina was part of the Hapoel Jerusalem youth department and in 2015 played with the Under-18 team at the European Championships B Division where they won a silver medal and moved up to A Division together with TJ Leaf who now plays for the Indiana Pacers in the NBA.
The following year Ruina played for Hapoel Kfar Saba and then moved to Hapoel Galil Elyon for a pair of seasons and advanced to the playoffs where the team eventually fell to Maccabi Haifa who were promoted to the top league.
“My first year in professional basketball with Kfar Saba wasn’t easy and there was a big difference between youth leagues and the pros, especially if you are playing as a power forward or center. It was a challenge and I succeeded and moved on.”
“Galil was like a second home to me and was much more than just basketball. The people, management, the entire club is like one big family. I really enjoyed playing there, both on and off of the court with Avishay Gordon, Guni Israeli and all of the players. I learnt a lot. A few months before the playoffs I fell on top of a player and broke my ankle but I didn’t know it was broken until right before the playoffs. I ended up playing anyways with the break and had surgery after the playoffs.”
In the summer of 2019, Ruina was going to play for Karhu Basket in Finland but the league didn’t approve his application to be counted as a local player because he was part of the Under-20 Israel National team and in the end the deal fell apart. Instead, Ruina signed to play with Elitzur Yavne and scored 8.2 points and added 5.9 rebounds per game.
“Every summer there is interest from teams in Finland and everything in this case was ready to go. But two weeks before I was going to fly out there, they called to tell me that there was a problem and that there was a new rule in Finland that because I had played for the U20’s in Israel that I couldn’t be counted as Finnish despite having been both there. I am happy that I played in Yavne and it was really good there. The first game I was there I broke my hand when I jumped to block a ball and fell awkwardly on it.”
After the coronavirus break, Ruina received his first chance to play in the WINNER League when he signed with Eilat where he played under coach Arik Alfasi and scored 3 points and pulled down 2.1 rebounds in 8.9 minutes per game.
“When the Leumit League ended I didn’t want to just sit at home and I wanted to play basketball. My agent Matan Siman Tov told me that there was an opportunity in Eilat and I was thrilled to take it. Coach Alfasi gave me a chance to play and I really appreciate that he gave me the opportunity. Some games I played more than others but all in all it was a very positive experience.”
Ruina can play both big men positions the 4 and the 5 and doesn’t have a preference, “Play me as a power forward or play me as a center I will do what the club needs.”
As for the new season ahead, Ruina is getting ready to make an impact by the Red Seam “I am working hard and getting my body ready. I can’t wait to get going as there are a number of players with whom I have played with before hand so I am pretty happy. I am sure everything will be great.”
Ruina is going to be taking it game to game and not set long term goals as refines his game, “First of all I want to prove that I am worthy to play in the top league and then the sky’s the limit. I will take my goals one step at a time and I haven’t done anything yet. I want to be a legitimate player in the WINNER League.”