The Last Word: Pride goes a long way

Last weekend showcased how national pride and sporting prowess combine to produce outstanding results.

By JEREMY LAST
September 26, 2008 05:49
2 minute read.
The Last Word: Pride goes a long way

jeremy last 88. (photo credit: )

 
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Last weekend was a great one for Israeli sports, a weekend which showcased how national pride can combine with sporting prowess to produce outstanding results. On Saturday, the national basketball team booked its place at EuroBasket 2009 in the most remarkable manner, coming through two tough weeks in which it played six qualifying games. The following day, the national tennis team completed three superb days of Davis Cup play with an emphatic win over Peru to ensure its place in the prestigious World Group. Even though the Israelis were favorites in both the Davis Cup tie and the EuroBasket qualifying group, in neither case was qualification anywhere near guaranteed. In both cases the national team players pulled off the kind of clutch performances which make one proud to be Israeli. At Ramat Hasharon, captain Eyal Ran's tennis team had it slightly easier, but had to cope without regular doubles player Yoni Erlich in the key third rubber on Saturday. Meanwhile, coach Tzvika Sherf's basketball side had won only two of five qualifiers coming into the game against the Czech Republic on Saturday night. Not only did it need to beat the Czechs but it also had to hope France lost at home to Turkey with the combined points differential in the two games number being at least 30. The basketball team finally showed that if it pulls together it can play to the potential expected. At last Yotam Halperin put his inconsistency behind him, sinking six of six three-pointers in Israel's 37-point 98-61 victory. Once the game was finished, the entire team crowded round a few laptops at the side of the court and erupted in joy when it became clear that France had lost by two points. The reaction was heartwarming and was repeated on Sunday when Dudi Sela won his second singles match of the tie to send Israel through in tennis. The two games underlined just how far our national teams can go if they put in maximum effort, despite the relative young age of our country. It also highlighted one of the many problems in the national soccer team. Even though coach Dror Kashtan constantly insists all is well in the national camp and all the players get on fabulously with one another, there is definitely a lack of chemistry which is reflected on the field of play. For Yossi Benayoun to realize his dream and lead Israel to the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa he should take a look at Sherf's and Ran's teams. Success will come only by emulating the depth of pride in playing for your country shown by the basketball and tennis teams. jeremylast@gmail.com

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