There was plenty of Israel basketball action in week 2 of the preseason and a number of interesting things that The Sports Rabbi learnt along the way.
1) Maccabi Tel Aviv lost their first two games and the alarm bells began going off around the country. What’s wrong with Maccabi? Casspi looks slow and out of shape! How can it be that Maccabi lost to such lower level competition! and on and on and on. Just HOLD ON and CHILL OUT! It’s just preseason! Obviously it’s always good to win, don;t get me wrong, but Maccabi has so many moving parts right now, Coach Sfairopoulos just needs to get the house in order and see who plays well with who and what lineups will be best to go with.
— Maccabi Tel Aviv BC (@MaccabitlvBC) September 12, 2019
Scottie Wilbekin just landed in Israel for his physical after playing with Turkey and hasn’t yet been part of the mix so that has to also be taken into account. As for Casspi, the coach had been very clear before the preseason games began that he will need time, so it’s no surprise that he hasn’t been a factor and that’s fine. Better take his return following surgery slowly but surely rather than rush him back. Add to that Angelo Caloiaro who has played well, there is plenty of insurance around for the team.
2) Justin Tillman and Nick Ward are players and they can ball. Hapoel Gilboa/Galil Head Coach Lior Lubin hit the nail on the head by signing the pair plus Jamar Gulley has been pretty good as well. Although there is very little depth in the Galil, should the team stay healthy they’ll be a fun watch as they have been over the past years when Ariel Beit Halachmi was the head coach.
3) Speaking of Beit Halachmi, the Hapoel Tel Aviv coach stepped down from the National Team after winning back-to-back Under-20 European Championships. He’s taking a break and that’s fine, he’s done a great job and must be congratulated for that. As for his new challenge, he has a nice team around him, although should the injury bug hit the depth of his squad will be tested. But he has one amazing Israeli in Tomer Ginat. The forward does it all. Scores, rebounds, assists and much more. Over the next few weeks, Malcolm Griffin and Rodney Purvis will join me on The Sports Rabbi Show while many others will also be featured. Make sure to check out my interview below with Michael Brisker,one of the Reds new players.
4) Lior Eliyahu is back and back with a vengeance. The new Maccabi Ashdod captain looks to be back to his old self scoring at will and looking ten years younger. It seems that getting away from Oded Katash has done him some good and that’s great for Israeli ball. One of his teammates told me a few weeks ago that we should all watch out for Eliyahu, he’s going to have an MVP year and so far that’s been correct. Add to the mix Elijah Johnson, Noah Dickerson, Tomer Levinson and Brad Greenberg will have a team to work with, but as with many of the other teams depth is going to play a factor.
5) Jerusalem keeps on winning and they look very good as well as James Feldeine looks to be in midseason form. You can read my analysis of the Reds HERE as well as an interview with Trent Lockett, Hapoel’s new Minister of Defense.
6) Don’t miss this week’s Sports Rabbi Show where I had the privilege to speak with AJ Mitnick about his coaching career and who is now an assistant with Nes Zioan. I also talked to Chris Solari of the Detroit Free Press about Nick Ward who just signed with Hapoel Gilboa/Galil after playing at Michigan State and Jeff Greer of The Athletic about Hapoel Holon’s newest recruit Jaylen Johnson who played his college ball at Louisville.
7) I spoke to Travis Warech, Ben Eisenhardt and Michael Roll who played in Israel the past few years (Roll is now with Milan) about their memories of 9/11. Make sure to check out what they had to say.
Interview with Michael Brisker:
About joining Hapoel Tel Aviv:
“It feels great to come to a big club with young players. I think we can do something big this year and I can’t wait to start the season.”
Father Mark Brisker’s influence:
“My dad was a big influence and gave me a lot of tips before and after games. He’s been through everything in the Israeli league and played for Maccabi Tel Aviv.”
Becoming a basketball player:
“It’s all I ever thought of since I was young watching my dad play and it was my dream. Especially now with the chance to play with Hapoel. It’s going to be a big year.”
Role models on the court:
“Steph Curry, Trae Young all the guys that shoot 3’s.”
“Hyperdunk 2019 on the court and Nike Air Force off the court.
“That’s easy pancakes.”
“I’m working hard and I hope that one day I can play in Europe or the NBA.”
Week 2 Preseason
5/9 – Hapoel Gilboa/Galil 83-88 Hapoel Tel Aviv – Edgar Sosa 18p, Justin Tillman 17p, Amit Gershon 14p for HGG. Tomer Ginat 20p, Malcolm Griffin 18p, Demetrius Treadwell 11p for HTA.
7/9 – Partizan Belgrade 84-76 Maccabi Tel Aviv – Othello Hunter 15p, Tarik Black + Quincy Acy 10p for MTA
8/9 – Anwil Wloclawek 83-81 Maccabi Tel Aviv – Nate Wolters 15p, Elijah Bryant 14p, Tyler Dorsey 12p for MTA.
8/9 – Hapoel Gilboa/Galil 81-79 Hapoel Holon – Justin Tillman 22p, Nick Ward 20p, Jamar Gulley 19p, Amit Gershon 12p for HGG. SHlomi Harush + Amit Simhon 19p each, Ryan Thompson + Marcus Foster 11p each for HOL.
8/9 – Hapoel Jerusalem 89-76 Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion – Tashawn Thomas + Tamir Blatt 1pp each, James Feldeine + Nimrod Levi + Suleiman Braimoh 10p each for HJ. Johnathan Williams 19p/8r, Jordan Swing 17p, Oz Blayzer 15p for MR.
8/9 – Maccabi Ashdod 86-93 Nahariya – Elijah Johnson + Lior Eliyahu 19p each, Noah Dickerson 11p for MA. Misgav 20p, Dominic Waters 18p, Travis Warech 13p for NAH.
9/9 – Hapoel Beer Sheva 86-94 Hapoel Eilat – Spencer Weisz + TJ Williams + Steven Zack 17p each, Nate Linhart 15p, John Petrucelli 11p for HBS. Kyvon Davenport 17p, Rafi Menco 16p, Eric Thompson 14, Larry Gordon 13p for HE.
10/9 – Hapoel Tel Aviv 84-79 Maccabi Haifa – Tomer Ginat 24p/9r, Desi Rodriguez 17p, Rodney Purvis 12p, Joaquuin Szuchman 10p for HTA. Scott Suggs 16p, Roman Sorkin 14p, Willy Workman 12p, Eric Anderson 11p for MH.
10/9 – Sassari 97-105 Hapoel Jerusalem – James Feldeine 21p, J’Covan Brown 18p, Mindaugas Kupsas 12p/10r, Trent Lockett + Idan Zalmanson 11p each for HJ.
11/9 – Strasbourg 72-82 Maccabi Tel Aviv – Tyler Dorsey 20p, Yovel Zoosman + Deni Avdija + Angelo Caloiaro 10p each for MTA.
11/9 – Maccabi Ashdod 102-83 Nes Ziona – Lior Eliyahu 20p/9r/6a, Elijah Johnson 14p/7a, Tzuf Ben Moshe 13p, Noah Dickerson 12p, Tomer Levinson 10p for MA. Daequan Cook 23p, Jeremy Hollowell 17p, Raviv Limonad 14p, Jeff Withey 10p for NZ.
12/9 – Cholet v Maccabi Tel Aviv
12/9 – Hapoel Beer Sheva v Hapoel Holon
12/9 – Hapoel Eilat v Nahariya
12/9 – Hapoel Gilboa/Galil v Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion
14/9 – Khimki v Jerusalem
15/9 – Nes Ziona v Hapoel Tel Aviv
15/9 – Maccabi Haifa v Hapole Gilboa/Galil
18/9 – Brescia v Hapoel Holon