Last night, as I was walking towards a local restaurant to meet Herzeliya-Hasharon's newest member Trevor Booker and his business manager Oliver Hill, for a one-on-two dinner, I thought to myself, what should we focus on? The NBA lockout, Israel, his new team, the 12-hour flight, women or perhaps whether or not he brought his X-box or PlayStation for the ride?
Well, as I introduced myself to the 6-foot-7 gigantic forward/center, I came across an extremely shy, outgoing but curious and educated personality who was essentially out of his comfort zone and for the first time in his professional career, in a foreign country. Getting to know each other, I found myself being the middle man translating from Hebrew to English helping him order his first Holy-Land meal -- home fries, salad and a medium-well hamburger that included grilled onions, 'I never knew you can put grilled onions as a toping on your burger,' said Booker, 'I'm going to have to try that.' Going through the list of NBA players and recognized names currently in the league, our attention shifted towards the TV screen, showing highlights of Jordan Farmar's first game on Israeli soil, as I interrupted the meaningless narrator (Booker doesnt understand Hebrew), and asked, are you looking forward to playing anyone in particular? Lying on the somewhat comfortable couches, Booker frowned and said 'not really, I'm just focused on taking things day by day, learning from and enjoying this opportunity.' The chilled atmosphere, English conversation along with the Heinz ketchup and mustard gave Booker the impression that maybe he didnt land in Timbuktu after all. However, under the circumstances that brought him here, Booker was feeling unfortunate he didnt receive the good luck blessing from NBA coach Flip Saunders. 'The sad part about this whole situation is that due to the lockout I was unable to talk to anyone from the Wizards' management or coaching staff before coming to Israel. They couldnt even say goodbye or good luck.'
Did any of your NBA teammates talk to you before you hoped on the plane? 'Yes, I can't remember who exactly but most of my teammates wished me luck. Nick Young sent me message on Twitter and other players from teams around the league gave me a shout and took an interest.' As the in between 'small-talk' continued, the main course was served and Hill's fried chicken dish met the table, or shall we say his 'Shnitzal'. After a few good bites, we got into specifics and I tried to understand how one could possibly go from playing in the Goodman/Melo all-stars game with NBA superstars such as Kevin Durant, Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony, to hooping in the Israeli league, 6,000 miles away with less than a handful of people you know. 'NBA guys came to the Israeli league because it has good competition. I wanted to come overseas and experience playing basketball in two different countries. This is my first time doing something like this. Professionally, it doesnt really matter where or who I play against as long as I'm on the court. Now I'm here with Hasharon, I'll put in the work and give my best everyday hoping I'll be satisfied.' Accompanied by Hill, who will stay in Israel until Tuesday, assisting Booker with getting comfortable in his sixth-floor Mediterranean ocean view luxury apartment, I asked the two if they had any second thoughts about getting on the plane with all the latest NBA lockout meetings. 'We were hearing different things about the lockout. That it would go on for a while, then that the season was going to begin soon, honestly, we didnt know what to believe.' Both Booker and Hill commented.
Aside from knowing a few players in the league (Dan Grunfeld, D.J. Strawberry and Craig Brackins), in order to have a successful season, Booker will have to rely first and foremost on his teammates who have already took initiative and went over to Booker's flat welcoming their new big man. But I was still snooping, Out of all the places in Europe, why Israel? 'I've talked to other players and guys who've been here in the past and they said how nice it was and that the league has good competition. Wizards' GM Ernie Grunfeld's son Dan, who is playing here this year told me a lot about the country so overall; I'm excited to be out here. Arguably, being the biggest name to ever play for his new organizations, and only one season after former NBA vet' Lee Nailon led his team and the league in scoring, one leagues lose is definitely another's advantage and Booker, who respects his opponents, focuses on winning it all and tries to concentrate more on what his team needs to do to become successful, 'everyone is talking about Maccabi Tel-Aviv. I heard they were a good team but I definitely think we can give them a run for the title. We'll let our game speak for itself.' Oh yea, we skipped dessert.
International Basketball Tournament take place in Crete, is strated in friday with Anadolu Efes Istanbul that get a easy win against Hapoel Jerusalem 94 - 76. DeShaun Thomas (201-SF-91, college: Ohio St.) fired 25 points (7/8 from three), Thomas Heurtel (189-PG-89, agency: BeoBasket) set his own contribution: 9 assists and 10 points. Another players that be a treat is Derrick Brown (202-F-87, college: Xavier) with 14 points, and Bryant Dunston (203-C-86) with 13 points and 6 rebounds. An... [read more]
Maccabi Tel Aviv top Panathinaikos in Moscow - 1 day ago
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Maccabi Tel Aviv - Panathinaikos 90:88 Maccabi Tel Aviv claimed the spot in the Gomelsky Cup Final. They nipped Panathinaikos in the semifinal clash in Moscow. Maik Zirbes (208-C-90, agency: BeoBasket) produced 21 points for the Israeli powerhouse. Maccabi jumped to a 27:21 lead ten minutes into the game. Panathinaikos erased the deficit in the second quarter. The Greek side tied things up at 42. Panathinaikos surged ahead in the third term. The Greek side secured a 3-point lead at the... [read more]
Maccabi Tel Aviv - Panathinaikos 90:88
Maccabi Tel Aviv claimed the spot in the Gomelsky Cup Final. They nipped Panathinaikos in the semifinal clash in Moscow. Maik Zirbes (208-C-90, agency: BeoBasket) produced 21 points for the Israeli powerhouse. Maccabi jumped to a 27:21 lead ten minutes into the game. Panathinaikos erased the deficit in the second quarter. The Greek side tied things up at 42. Panathinaikos surged ahead in the third term. The Greek side secured a 3-point lead at the final intermission. But Maccabi dropped 28 points in the fourth period and snatched a narrow win at the end. Gal Mekel (190-PG-88, college: Wichita St., agency: BeoBasket) provided 16 points, while Sonny Weems (198-G/F-86, college: Arkansas) added 9 points in the win. Nikos Pappas (194-SG-90) answered with 15 points for Panathinaikos. Nick Calathes (198-PG-89, college: Florida) had 14 points in the defeat.
Ironi Kfar Hamaccabia Ramat Gan (National League) strengthened their roster with addition of experienced 36-year old naturalized American small forward Jermaine Hall (196-80, college: Wagner). He has played for the last two years at Maccabi Ashdod in the Winner League. Winner League was a little too high level for him, where in 27 Winner League games he recorded just 1.3ppg and 1.0rpg last season. National League will be definitely a better match and he can see more playing time. In 2003... [read more]
Ironi Kfar Hamaccabia Ramat Gan (National League) strengthened their roster with addition of experienced 36-year old naturalized American small forward Jermaine Hall (196-80, college: Wagner). He has played for the last two years at Maccabi Ashdod in the Winner League. Winner League was a little too high level for him, where in 27 Winner League games he recorded just 1.3ppg and 1.0rpg last season. National League will be definitely a better match and he can see more playing time. In 2003 Hall was drafted by Brevard Blue Ducks (USBL) in fourth round (34th overall). He attended Wagner College and it will be his 14th (!!!) season in pro basketball. Among other achievements Hall played in the final of Israeli National League in 2006 and 2012. He received also Eurobasket.com Israeli National League All-Domestic Players Team award in 2014. Hall is a very experienced player. He has played also professionally in Poland (AZS Koszalin), Portugal (Braga), United Kingdom (Glasgow Rocks), Israel (Galil Gilboa, B.C. Habikaa, Ironi Ashkelon, Beer Yaakov and Hapoel Afula) and USBL (Brooklyn K.). Hall is close to retirement age as a player. It may be one of last seasons in his extensive career, which he may end at Ironi Ramat Gan. The scouts decsribe him following way:
A Lefty athletic Forward. Great team player, scores inside the system having very high percentages in 2FGP. Very good offensive rebounder.
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