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Friday, November 15, 2019

In 1992 the United States of America sent twelve of its best basketball player to compete in the Olympic Games as the original dream Team. They not only defeated, but embarrassed any and all opponents in their path to the Olympic gold. The dream team was reborn last month, when the US sent their 18 and under team to compete in the 2013 Maccabiah Games.   The Maccabiah Games are an opportunity for elite Jewish athletes across the globe, to get together and compete against each other.  The games feature a wide range of sports; basketball, baseball, gymnastics, track, volleyball and swimming, just to name a few.

A competition like this always produces great stories; one of the highlights of the 2013 games was the performance of the USA 18u mens basketball squad.  This superbly talented group was selected from tryouts in both California and Philadelphia. The team that was chosen to represent the United States included twelve players, from all over the country.  Team USA was coached by two of the best High School coaches in the country; Jamie Chadwin (Springside Chestnut Hill, PA) and Elliot Steinmetz (North Shore Hebrew Academy, NY).  Coach Steinmetz told the JLBC “This experience was one of the most rewarding one could have, from both a cultural and basketball perspective.  Jewish basketball players from around the country that had never experienced Israel before were able to spiritually experience it while playing a sport that they love.”

Throughout the games, team USA soundly defeated the opposition: 105-15 over South Africa, 101-28 over Great Britain, 100-11 over Turkey and 104-30 over Canada.  The team received their first legitimate challenge against Brazil. Brazil had the size, skill and physicality to keep it close. After four hard fought quarters, team USA’s perfect record prevailed, with a 63-37 victory.

In the gold medal game, the team faced the Israeli national team.  It was a back and forth game for most of the first half. With minutes to go in the half, team USA turned it up a notch. They finished the half with 19 point lead after a 19-3 run. The home team came out of the half strong and tried to make a few runs. The US team would not relent; forward Michael Bregman put an exclamation point on the win with a monster dunk (the rim is still shaking).

Five of the players on this talented roster are New Jersey natives: Judah Cohen of Englewood, already started his year in Israel before heading to Yeshiva University. Michael Greenman of Linwood, will be playing for Williams College in the fall. Anthony Firkser of Manalapan will taking his talent to Harvard in September. Spencer Weisz of Florham Park, is off to Princeton. Lior Levy from Princeton, will be going to Franklin Marshall.

Coach Steinmetz relates, that it was an amazing feeling to be part of a team that captured the gold medal,  what made this team truly great, was that twelve players, from different schools and backgrounds, were able to come together to form an unstoppable group of athletes.

By Shana Adler