Maccabiah 2013’s Men’s Open Basketball kicked off Friday afternoon in several different venues across Jerusalem. But before the games began, New York Knicks star Ama’re Stoudemire took part in an early morning basketball clinic that was held in commemoration of Israeli basketball coaching legend Ralph Klein.
Stoudemire is visiting Israel as a member of the Canadian Maccabiah delegation and is helping to coach the Men’s Open Basketball Team.
The basketball clinic was put together by the Israeli Coaches Association in cooperation with the Wingate Institute, and featured coaching lessons by Stoudemire, Canada Open Men’s Basketball Head Coach John Dore, and former NBA forward Danny Schayes.
Over 300 youth coaches and a few close friends of the late Ralph Klein packed the crowded Hadar Yosef Arena to attend the clinic. A special delegation of Wingate basketball players attended the event in order to run all the drills with the three teachers.
Stoudemire worked with the forwards and centers of the Wingate squad and explained to the crowd that playing with the New York Knicks is not as much fun as they might think. “There’s no fun and games. No smiling. That’s just after we win. It’s all serious business.”
At the end of his training session with the players from Wingate, Stoudemire smiled and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, that was basketball and physics with Stoudemire. Hope you enjoyed yourselves.”
Immediately after the clinic, Stoudemire held a press conference where he released the following statement: “It’s definitely a great honor to be part of the 2013 Maccabiah games and also experience a beautiful culture. It’s great being here and being able to teach the youth and the coaches about the game of basketball. Expanding the game of basketball to a global game is very important to myself and also to the NBA. Being here is a great honor. Thank you guys for allowing us to be here.”
When asked about being part of the new Hapoel Jerusalem ownership group, Stoudemire said, “Great opportunity to bring to talent to Jerusalem. Our ultimate goal is to expand basketball to a global atmosphere, and so, when the opportunity knocked on my door, and Jerusalem being such a remarkable and historic city, it was only right for me to get involved.”
Will Stoudemire ever play for Hapoel Jerusalem?
Stoudemire smiled and said, “I am a still a New York Knick,” which caused all the journalists in attendance to laugh.
Later in the day, Open Men’s Basketball kicked off at Malcha Stadium in Jerusalem with surprising results. Argentina defeated favorite and world power the United States by a score of 86-83 in a thriller which required over-time and a dramatic buzzer-beater.
Leading the way for Argentina was former professional basketball player Lucas Saul who contributed 28 points. The USA was led by Columbia forward Alex Rosenberg who scored a team-high of 15 points.
After the game, Argentinian player Andrea Berman spoke to The Times of Israel about how important the victory was to the Argentinians. “The team was willing to sacrifice everything to get the win. We played with a lot of heart and are very happy with the victory,” Berman said.
The Argentinians were very open about what their true goal in the tournament is: “We want to win gold. That is what we came here to do,” several players on the squad agreed.
USA Head Coach Brad Greenberg said that, despite the disappointing result, the US will bounce back.
“The game was very physical and both teams played really hard. We will be ready to go against Germany.” said Greenberg.
The US faces Germany next, while Argentina will attempt to continue its hot streak with a game against first-time Maccabiah nation Guinea-Bissau.
This year’s Maccabiah games feature delegations 78 countries. The athletes are participating in 42 sports, as well as Paralympic events. Some 150 athletes who participated in the recent Olympic Games will be competing in the Maccabiah.
On Sunday, with swimming set to begin in Wingate, many eyes will be on two-time Olympic gold medalist Garret Weber-Gale, who will be competing in the 50 and 100 meter freestyle races. Swimming medal rounds are expected to begin at 6:10.
In addition, the United State Open Men’s Basketball squad will try and come back from the defeat to Argentina and face Germany in Lerner stadium in Jerusalem at 8pm.
Traditional Cricket powerhouse Australia will face South Africa, while India will go head-to-head with Great Britain at Hadar Yosef at 10:30 am.
A full schedule of all events is at Maccabi’s website.