For Guinea Bissau hoopsters, winning isn’t everything
Maccabiah 2013

For Guinea Bissau hoopsters, winning isn’t everything

Small African nation’s team knows fighting malaria is more important than its loss to Russia; golden Israeli swimmers and bowlers

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

The Russian (blue) and Guinea Bissau Maccabiah basketball teams (photo credit: Aaron Kalman)
The Russian (blue) and Guinea Bissau Maccabiah basketball teams (photo credit: Aaron Kalman)

As athletic power-houses Israel and the United States started racking up medals on Monday at the 19th Maccabiah Games, one small African team showed that victory isn’t everything.

In Jerusalem, Guinea Bissau’s basketball team was trounced by Russia 91-48. Despite the crushing defeat, Israeli-born team member Motti Ifergan said he wasn’t too disappointed with the result. “We don’t practice together. We’re not a professional team,” he told the Times of Israel. Rather, he said, having the team at the Games “is about making a statement.”

The team from the small African coastal country was in Israel for the first time, and it aims to raise $10,000 during the competition for combatting malaria, he said. “The only problem is that we were just under 50 [points],” he said, noting one of the donors pledged a large sum for every time the basketball team hit that mark.

At Wingate’s newly renovated pool, Israel’s Keren Siebner continued the blue-and-white swimmers’ strong performances, and is on her way to two gold medals. The 23-year-old Siebner, who swims for Georgia Tech, earned an individual medal in the 100 meter butterfly race before taking part in the 4×100 relay team, which set a new national record.

Israel was out in front in the 10-pin bowling event after its second day of action at the Holon bowling center. Yahav Rabin of Israel led the men in bowling with an average of 213.83 points, and was followed by Americans Marc Scherlis (208.50) and James Lewis (196.17). The top five individual rankings were rounded up by Marcos Krajmalnik of Mexico and Hirsh Schnayer of Canada.

As was visible on its official Twitter feed, the Canadian delegation to the Games enjoyed a good day, winning at various events throughout the country — including squash, basketball and the girls’ junior soccer team.

In unrelated Maccabiah news, on Monday team USA announced the song “Live Like a Warrior,” by Jewish hip-hop and rap star Matisyahu, would be its theme song for the duration of the games.

Here’s Tuesday’s schedule, on the Maccabiah website

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