I'll be honest. In September 2010, upon reading that Israel's Division I mediocre team Barak Netanya acquired Romeo Travis, the 2003 St. Vincent St. Mary (SVSM) national high school champion, I thought 'Who?'
Don't get me wrong. I was always aware of the Fab 5 gang from Ohio; I simply couldn't remember any of their names except -- LeBron James. To my surprise, during that very season, Travis, one of the Fab 5, who bounced around in Spain and Germany before landing in Israel, became a force within the league. He established himself as a pillar of the team as Netanya unexpectedly reached the state cup finals.
In 2011, Travis joined Galil/Gilboa and currently averages 18.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, leading his team to the 2nd seed in the country. Galil recently clinched the European Balkan League title where Romeo earned All Forward of the Year honors, posting 13.4 points, 6.6 boards and 2.2 dimes per game.
Still, who was Romeo Travis? I thus began my quest to learn more about the Akron native who invented the human 'Washing Machine' dance.
Back in December 2010, before a home game, I caught Travis warming up on the sidelines with a fresh pair of kicks that were yet to make their way to local Nike stores. 'Aren't those the new LeBron's?' I asked Travis, whose face lit up with a smile as he replied, 'Yup, this is my birthday present, man.'
And that's when it hit me. Although they haven't shared a locker room for over nine years, Travis' high school teammate, Miami Heat's basketball phenom LeBron James still remains in touch. Constantly.
'Rome (Romeo) and I talk all the time,' James told Eurobasket. 'We talk after tough games and great games. I'll always support him just like he will always support me. That's what family is all about.'
Prior to signing with Netanya, Travis and James met at SVSM's high school gym to work on their game. Netanya's offer to play pro ball in Israel was on the table and Travis turned to James for guidance.
'I told him that Israel had one of the best international leagues and it was an amazing opportunity. I've heard so many amazing things about the country and can't wait to visit,' said James, who in 2006 experienced some Israeli ball when playing a pre-season exhibition game with the Cavs against Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Right before pounding the New York Knicks in Game 1 of the NBA playoffs series and just 48 hours before Travis hits the playoff battles in Gan Ner, I caught up with 'King James'.
'Its amazing,' James pleasingly reacted to the journey of the SVSM Fab 5, who were all inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame last summer. 'To see where we started, just a bunch of kids from Akron, and now everyone has great things going. Those guys (Dru Joyce III, Sian Cotton, Willie McGee and Travis) are one of the best things to happen in my life and I love seeing everyone succeed.'
Travis and James always planned to reunite on the court and declared mission accomplished this past July while representing Akron in the Cleveland Pro-Am games.
'Playing with Romeo is awesome no matter where. Could be in summer league, high school, or my backyard in Akron,' James commented.
While Travis hopes to protect Akron's summer title in the Pro-Am games, James has other plans. International ones. 'This summer is all about the Olympics,' James says. 'It's going to be tough to do the (Pro-Am) game again this year.'
James, behind the eight ball ever since entering the league in 2003, is still in search of his first NBA ring. Playing his best and most dominant season yet, James admits that winning MVP 'would be a great honor, but nothing is more important to me than an NBA championship. It's all that matters right now.'
During the recent NBA lockout, James entertained the idea of visiting the Holy Land and supporting Travis from courtside. 'Ive loved watching his success and I would love to see Rome play in Israel, which has a great level of play. Not sure when, but visiting Israel is definitely on my list.'
Israeli businessman Ra'anan Katz, a partial shareholder of the Heat and former partner of Maccabi Tel Aviv, still financially contributes to Israeli teams. However, Katz and James have yet to discuss bringing the Heat to hoop in Israel.
'We've never discussed about that,' James confessed, 'but as I said, I definitely want to go to Israel. If it's to play hoops, even better.'
While Travis made a habit of joining James in the United States during the post season, it seems that Galil's hopes of reaching the Final Four will keep Travis on this side of the Atlantic for now.
An MRI taken last night at Kaiser Permanente in Sacramento revealed that forward Omri Casspi(6'9''-SF-88) suffered a strain of the right plantaris tendon during practice on Monday. He is expected to miss up to two weeks of action. The eight-year NBA veteran is averaging 5.9 points (.453 FG%, .379 3pt%, .571 FT%), 4.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 18 minutes per contest this season. According to the Sacramento Bee, 'it has been a trying season for Casspi, whose role has diminished under Dave... [read more]
An MRI taken last night at Kaiser Permanente in Sacramento revealed that forward Omri Casspi (6'9''-SF-88) suffered a strain of the right plantaris tendon during practice on Monday. He is expected to miss up to two weeks of action. The eight-year NBA veteran is averaging 5.9 points (.453 FG%, .379 3pt%, .571 FT%), 4.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 18 minutes per contest this season. According to the Sacramento Bee, 'it has been a trying season for Casspi, whose role has diminished under Dave Joerger. Casspi had appeared in just six of the Kings' last 15 games and is averaging 5.9 points and 4.1 rebounds.' Courtesy of: insidehoops.com
Taipans sign Tony Mitchell, ex Hapoel Eilat - 1 day ago
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Cairns Taipans (NBL) signed 28-year old American small forward Tony Mitchell (198-98kg-89, college: Alabama). He started the season at Hapoel Eilat in Israeli Winner League. In 5 games he had 8.8ppg, 4.8rpg and 1.4spg this season. The last summer Mitchell played at Hebei Xianglan in NBL where in 27 games he was the best scorer with impressive 42.9ppg and averaged 10.9rpg, 4.6apg (top 5), 2.5spg (in top 5) and 2.2bpg. Mitchell helped them to make it to the semifinals. A very impressive sea... [read more]
Cairns Taipans (NBL) signed 28-year old American small forward Tony Mitchell (198-98kg-89, college: Alabama). He started the season at Hapoel Eilat in Israeli Winner League. In 5 games he had 8.8ppg, 4.8rpg and 1.4spg this season. The last summer Mitchell played at Hebei Xianglan in NBL where in 27 games he was the best scorer with impressive 42.9ppg and averaged 10.9rpg, 4.6apg (top 5), 2.5spg (in top 5) and 2.2bpg. Mitchell helped them to make it to the semifinals. A very impressive season as he was named to Asia-Basket.com All-Chinese NBL 2nd Team. He has tried to make it to the NBA and played in the NBA Pro Summer League in 2015. Mitchell won D-League championship title in 2014. He is quite experienced player. Mitchell has played in seven different countries on three different continents (Europe, Asia and of course North America). He has played previously professionally in Italy (Banco di Srd and Dolomiti Energia Trento), Philippines (TNT Ka Tropa), Russia (Krasny Oktyabr), Spain (Movil Estudiantes), NBA (Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings), China (Jilin Tigers) and D-League (Fort Wayne Mad Ants). Mitchell attended University of Alabama until 2012 and it is his fifth season as a professional player. He could be described:
A very good scorer, with great athletic abilities and all-around playing skills. He can easily beat his man and create for his own and teammates.
Egor Koulechov's double-double lands him Player of the Week award among Israelis playing currently abroad: - 2 days ago
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Traditionally, every week we bring you a list of the top performances of Israelis who are currently playing abroad. This week's number one is an international swingman Egor Koulechov (196-94). Heto an easy victory against the University of North Texas in the NCAA in Saturday night's game.
Traditionally, every week we bring you a list of the top performances of Israelis who are currently playing abroad.
#1. This week's number one is an international swingman Egor Koulechov (196-94, currently plays college basketball in the States). He led Rice to an easy victory against the University of North Texas (1-0) crushing them 101-79 in the NCAA in Saturday night's game.
Koulechov had a double-double by scoring 26 points and getting 15 rebounds. He also added 4 assists in 33 minutes on the court.
The Rice University has 2-3 conference record this season.
Koulechov has individually a very good year with high stats. He averages: 19.9ppg, 8.4rpg, 2.0apg, 2FGP: 52.1%, 3FGP: 55.4%(46-83) and FT: 84.9% in 18 games he played so far.
Koulechov has a dual citizenship: Russian and Israeli.
Ex-Wingate Academy Netanya player is currently a member of the Israeli senior national team.
#2. Second place goes to former U22 international center Anton Shoutvin (206-89, currently plays in Slovakia). He could not help Iskra Svit (12-12) in their last game on Wednesday. Despite Shoutvin's very good performance Iskra Svit was defeated 94-79 at home by the leading Kosice.
He was the top scorer with 22 points. Shoutvin also added 5 rebounds.
It's Shoutvin's first season with the team.
He has relatively good stats this year: 14.8ppg, 5.9rpg, 1.4apg, 2FGP: 61.7%(113-183), 3FGP: 37.2% and FT: 81.2%.
Shoutvin played for the Israeli U22 national team in 2011.
#3. The Israeli player who performed third best last week abroad was former international center Alex Tyus (203-88, college: Florida, currently plays in Euroleague). He managed to help Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul in a victory against the closely-ranked Zalgiris (6-11) 87-79 in the Euroleague on Friday night.
Tyus scored 5 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in 14 minutes.
Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul (5-12) is placed second from the bottom (#15) in group A.
They ended the series of four consecutive loses.
This year Tyus has relatively solid stats: 10.1ppg, 5.7rpg, 1.6bpg, 2FGP: 65.5%(72-110) and FT: 52.9% in 17 games.
He is a naturalized American.
Tyus played for the Israeli national team four years ago.
He used to play for Maccabi Ashdod in Israeli league.
#4. Small forward Omri Casspi (206-88, currently plays in NBA) was not able to help the Sacramento Kings in their game against the Cleveland Cavaliers (29-11) in the NBA. He did not beat the league record on Friday evening.
Casspi recorded only 2 points.
The Sacramento Kings (16-25) were defeated 120-108 on the road by the Cavaliers.
It was Kings' third consecutive loss in a row.
Casspi's overall stats this season are: 5.9ppg, 4.1rpg and 1.2apg.
He used to play for the Israeli national team
back in 2015.
#5. Former University international power forward Anton Kazarnovski (206-85, currently plays in Germany) was not able to secure a victory for BG Karlsruhe (8-6) in their game against Dragons Rhoendorf (7-8) in the German ProB (third division).
Kazarnovski scored 8 points and grabbed 6 rebounds.
The sixth-placed BG Karlsruhe (8-6) was edged 69-67 in Rhoendorf by the lower-ranked Dragons (#7) in the South group.
This season Kazarnovski has very high stats. He averages: 15.8ppg, 7.2rpg and 1.4apg.
Kazarnovski is another player who holds two passports: Russian and Israeli.
He used to play for the Israeli university national team
ten years ago.
#6. Power forward Roman Sorkin (205-96, currently studies in the States) contributed to an easy victory against the Oregon State University (2-0) crushing them 85-43 in the NCAA on Saturday night.
Sorkin scored only 2 points in 13 minutes.
The University of Oregon has 5-0 conference record this season.
So far his team won all five games in the conference.
This year Sorkin's overall stats are: 4.7ppg and 2.9rpg in 12 games.
He is a former U20 international player as he played for the Israeli team two years ago.
#7. Former international point guard Yuval Naimy (188-85, currently plays in Italy) couldn't help Scafati (4-13) in their game against Mens Sana 1871 (9-8) in the Italian Serie A2 (second division).
Naimy scored 8 points and added 7 assists.
Scafati (#16) was defeated 78-71 in Siena by the much higher-ranked Mens Sana 1871 (#9) in the West group.
It was Scafati's third consecutive loss in a row.
This season Naimy has very high stats. He averages: 17.7ppg, 3.7rpg, 8.3apg and 1.2spg.
Naimy used to play for the Israeli national team
two years ago.
#8. Point guard Ky Feldman (178-97, is currently at the American university) contributed to an easy victory against the Boston College crushing them 76-53 in the NCAA last Saturday.
He scored only 2 points in 2 minutes on the court.
The Syracuse University has 3-3 conference record this season.
This year Feldman averages just 0.6ppg in nine games.
He plays currently for the Israeli U20 national team.
#9. U20 international center Ido Flaisher (206-98, currently plays college basketball in the States) contributed to a 3-point Hawaii's victory against the Cal State - Northridge 80-77 in the NCAA on Wednesday night.
Flaisher recorded only 2 points.
The University of Hawaii has 1-2 conference record this season.
Flaisher's total stats this year are: 3.9ppg and 3.3rpg.
He is also in the roster of the Israeli U20 national team.
The list of other players, who all have Israeli passport but never been selected to any of Israeli national teams:
#1.TJ Leaf (208-F-97, currently plays college basketball in the States) led UCLA to a 1-point victory against the University of Utah (1-1) 83-82 in the NCAA in Saturday night's game.
Leaf recorded a double-double by scoring 12 points and getting 10 rebounds.
The Univ.of Calif.at Los Angeles have 4-1 conference record this season.
Leaf has individually a very good year with high stats. He averages: 16.5ppg, 8.6rpg, 2.6apg and 1.1bpg.
Leaf is a naturalized American.
Despite his Israeli passport, Leaf previously played for the USA U19 national team and is probably not eligible to play for the Israeli team.
Strangely he has never played in Israel.
#2.Mor Menashe (188-G-92, currently plays in Canada) led Lakehead University to a victory against the Badgers (4-6) 75-64 in the Canadian university league CIS last Friday.
Menashe had a double-double by scoring 15 points and getting 10 rebounds. He also added 6 assists (went 6 for 6 at the free throw line) in 32 minutes.
The Lakehead University has 4-7 record this season.
Menashe has reliable stats this year: 11.7ppg, 6.3rpg, 4.6apg and 1.8spg in 10 games he played so far.
#3.Guy Aud (186-G-89, currently plays in Germany) could not help USC Leipzig (4-11) in their last game. Despite his good performance the 11th-placed USC Leipzig (4-11) lost 69-75 on the road to the much higher-ranked (#3) Wuerzburg in the South group.
Aud scored 11 points, had 4 rebounds and dished 4 assists in 24 minutes.
It was USC Leipzig's third consecutive loss in a row.
Aud has reliable stats this year: 11.4ppg, 3.0rpg, 5.6apg and 1.8spg in 12 games.
He has a dual citizenship: Israeli and German.
Worth to mention Aud played also at Eurobasket Summer League, which helped him get the job in pro basketball.
#4.Alon Hemsani (201-F, currently plays in NAIA) was not able to help the Culver Stockton College in their game against the MidAmerica Nazarene University in the NAIA. Hemsani cannot count Wednesday's game as one of the best ones.
He scored only 3 points in 10 minutes.
The Culver Stockton College lost 70-84 in Olathe, KS to the MidAmerica Nazarene University.
So far Culver Stockton College lost all twelve games in the Regular Season.
This year Hemsani's total stats are: 6.3ppg, 3.0rpg and 1.2apg in 11 games.
#5.Freddie Goldstein (178-PG-88, college: S.Alabama, currently plays in ASEAN League) was not able to secure a victory for KL Dragons (1-5) in their game against Alab Pilipinas (5-2) in the ASEAN League.
He scored 6 points and grabbed 5 rebounds.
KL Dragons was defeated 65-54 at home by the second-ranked Alab Pilipinas.
But this is still an early stage of the season and everything may happen.
Goldstein's total stats this year are: 6.3ppg, 3.0rpg and 1.2apg.
He is a naturalized American.
Goldstein used to play for Hapoel Kfar Saba/Kohav Yair in Israeli league.
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