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Monday, April 02, 2012

Finally: An Israeli basketball team I can root for

Did I ever tell you my Israeli basketball story? Six weeks after I made aliya, a client took me overseas to Europe. The client owned a European League basketball team and on the first night I was there, his team played an Israeli team. In fact, it was one of the top Israeli teams at the time. He proudly took me to the game. I've been a Boston Celtics fan for about 50 years (okay, at the time it was 'only' 30), and I was bored out of my mind. These teams didn't know how to move the ball and didn't know how to shoot. In those days, you couldn't find American basketball (or much else) on the internet. But I decided I was going to continue to follow my Celtics anyway. Now, I have found an Israeli basketball team worth following (but will continue to follow and root for my Celtics - who, by the way, blew out the Miami Heat last night).

Elitzur Shomron - made up entirely of Samarian residents - has made it to Liga Alef , which is the top league in the country. That's the league where Maccabi Tel Aviv and HaPoel Jerusalem play basketball. This should be fun.
The group, composed exclusively of residents of the Shomron, was established about two years ago by the Department of Sports of the Shomron Regional Council community center. It is made up of residents of the Shomron Council communities, just like residents of the Karnei Shomron and Kedumim regional councils. All the players are volunteers, and the games and training take place in the evenings, after work hours.

During the entire season, the basketball team performed well, winning 15 out of 17 games, not a few of them against established and wealthier groups.

Now, after "Elitzur Shomron" got to first place, the team has qualified for League Alef, and the Shomron will now be competing in the higher league.

The head of the Shomron Regional Council, Gershon Mesika, thanked the team's managers, Doron Halal and Meir Barchiya of the community center Sports Department, and congratulated the team's players for their outstanding accomplishment:

"The Shomron is on the map - and now, in sports. We are proud of the group's players and the team. The spirit of Samaria is the spirit that leads the group. All the players are intentionally residents of the Shomron, and with this spirit, the guys from the Shomron made history and made it to League Alef.

"From now on, the Shomron is no longer at an amateur level, but at the level of a senior professional league. I'm sure that in a few years, the Shomron will also take the State championship."
I've been to Yad Eliyahu (Tel Aviv's poor man's version of the TD North Garden) once in the last 20 years - when we finished the Babylonian Talmud 15 years ago. Now, I have a reason to go there more often.

Just not on Thursday nights boys. I have a Torah class that night.



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