Guest blog written by one of our “on-the-ground” reporters and bloggers, Logan Schiciano.

The Youth Men’s Basketball team started their competition in the 15th European Maccabi Games by racking up a victory against the Turks at Ludovika Arena on July 30, 2019. 

Max Adelman (Memphis, TN), Ethan Berks (Santa Monica, CA), Zeke Blauner (Dobbs Ferry, NY), Grant Bulmash (Plano, TX) and Albert Fallas (Beverly Hills, CA) were named to the starting five for Head Coach Adam Chaskin. 

Despite briefly trailing 3-2 in the opening minutes, Team Maccabi USA was aided by Zeke who provided an early spark for the team. He nailed the first three-pointer and converted the first three-point play (when a player is fouled in the act-of-shooting and makes the basket along with the additional free-throw that is awarded) of the tournament for the team. These plays helped them broaden an early lead to which they would not surrender. 

By halftime, the margin was 43-21, but many of the players had yet to showcase their talent. Among them was Princeton, NJ’s Jack Weiss, who, after only scoring two points in the first half, chipped in 13 in the later, nine of which were collected via three-point shots. Max Adelman also stepped-up, scoring 12 of his team’s high 20 points during the back-end of the contest, including a stretch during the final two minutes of the game where he scored nine points in a row! His efficient shooting performance (8-12 from the field) was not to be outdone by the other aspects of his game as he grabbed five rebounds and dished out five assists.

The highlight play, which came off one of those dimes from Max, happened in the final minute of the game. Maccabi USA forced a turnover, one of 28 on the game for the Turkish team. After the ball found its way into the hands of Max, he dished it ahead to Grant who went up high and threw down a right-hand slam. Even the Turkish fans in the crowd got up and cheered in amazement after the play. Grant, who shouted emphatically after the slam, recalled the moment: “I was super excited!” he said.

For Turkey, they received a strong effort from Ege Eskinazi, who led all scorers with 21 points, more than twice the number of any of his teammates recorded. A double-double performance also included 11 rebounds and two assists. 

Winning by 50 points, 95-45, Team Maccabi USA not only had a dominating offensive performance but utilized a strong effort on the other side of the ball to their advantage. “Our defensive rotations were great and we were able to get out on the fastbreak and score easy buckets in transition,” Max said. The onslaught in the second half, during which the team outscored Turkey 52-24, was fueled by some inspirational words from assistant coach, Jonathan Safir. “Play every minute the hardest you can and like you’re guarding the best player in the world,” Safir said during a time-out.

Despite only playing one game thus far, Coach Safir notes the team’s spirit during the game. “You can see the fun they’re having both on the court and on the bench. On the bench they’re locked in on the game, celebrating great plays.” 

Team Maccabi USA played an exhibition against the Israeli Special Olympics team on Thurs. July 31. They take the court again on August 1 against Germany.