Maccabiah announced today that Jake Cohen, arguably the biggest name in Team USA’s Baskteball roster, will not participate in the games. Cohen, who was recently signed by Maccabi Tel Aviv, is playing in the NBA summer league hoping to fulfill his dream of playing in the NBA.

“Jake isn’t with us, because he was scheduled to play with the Phoenix Suns in the Las Vegas summer league. He is a good player, but he is not here,” explained Team USA’s Head Coach, Brad Greenberg, in an exclusive interview to the Maccabiah website.

“All along he told us that he wanted to play with us, but if he has an opportunity to be with an NBA team in the summer league either in Orlando or Las Vegas, he will do that. He didn’t get drafted, we knew about a month ago that he was probably going to get an opportunity, and we decided to give him a chance to try his luck.”

Greenberg, who led Maccabi Haifa to an historic Israel championship win, will coach Team USA together with Michael Carter and Willie Sims, both of whom starred in the Israeli basketball league in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Carter’s sons, Ben and Timothy, were selected to play for Team USA, but an injury in his first practice in Israel will likely sideline Timothy for the Games.

“I am happy to work with Carter ‘The Meshuge’ and with Willie Sims. We had three practices and a few of the players know each other from playing against each other, from colleges, summer basketball programs and high school,” explained Greenberg.

“Two are teammates in the same college – Mitchel Kates and Will Tashman, both played at MIT. Brian Cohen played in Maccabi Haifa in the past year. I know that the Israeli team that is in Estonia playing in the European U20 Tournament will play in the Maccabiah Games. In any case, our players are good workers, good guys, and I think we will be good and competitive.”

Coach Greenberg also referred to the Israeli championship with Maccabi Haifa, to Gal Mekel and finally, to his future in Israel: “I knew we had a really good team, and it was a big deal here.

We had a real team, good chemistry, the players were playing together, and with a good attitude. It was really a special team. I am so excited and proud for Gal Mekel. I told people that he is not only a very talented player, but one of the most mature and emotionally intelligent people I have been around. It was an honor to coach him.”

As for his future in Israel, he said: “I loved coaching in Israel, I loved being in Israel, and I definitely want to get my situation settled in the near future. The thing is that I also loved the hummus, and because of that and the pitas, I gained about 20lbs [laughing]. I definitely hope to be here also next year.”

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