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(photo credit: Courtesy)
When Doron Jamchy catches fire on the basketball court, not even the New York Fire Department can contain him. Fortunately for the NYFD, Jamchy never found his rhythm as a group of New York's finest beat a team of former Israeli basketball stars by 71-57 at Columbia University on Sunday afternoon in a charity fundraiser.
Proceeds from the event went to Migdal Ohr, an organization that provides a shelter and education for over 6,500 abused, impoverished and orphaned children in Israel and to the Thomas R. Elsasser Fund, created to support the families of New York City firefighters who died non-line of duty as active members of the FDNY.
"The game was only part of the whole event," said Jamchy, Israel's all-time leading scorer, who led the Israeli squad with 12 points and was named Most Valuable Player for the visitors. "We [all] won before the game even started."
Joining Jamchy on the blue and white were fellow former Maccabi Tel Aviv stars Willie Sims and Motti Daniel Ex-Hapoel Tel Aviv players Boaz Yanai, the fourth alltime leading scorer in the Israeli Basketball League, and Tomer Steinhauer, a member of the Israeli Basketball Hall also participated.
Lavon Mercer, Shmuel Zisman and Tal Brody watched from the bench alongside head coach Shlomo Lutski.
At halftime, Tony Fromer, the chairman of the charity basketball game, presented Chief Salvatore Cassano with a donation of $25,000 to the Thomas R. Elsasser Fund.
Former St. John's University head basketball coach Mike Jarvis sat courtside as the Israeli legends' celebrity coach. Jarvis started getting involved with Israel when he was Daniel's coach at the George Washington University. Although he has never been to Israel, Jarvis, who has a career collegiate coaching record of 364-201, is thinking about visiting soon for a considerable amount of time.
"I might coach over there next year or the year after for one of the top teams," Jarvis said, although he wouldn't name any specific clubs.
"He's a friend of Israel," Daniel said. "If a team might get him, they'd get a good coach."
Herb Brown, former Detroit Pistons head coach and US men's basketball team coach at the 2006 Maccabiah, was also in attendance.
Paul Peterson, at 6'7" and 280 pounds, powered the FDNY inside with 24 points and 13 rebounds on his way to being named the winning team's Most Valuable Player.
"The Israeli team was highly competitive," Peterson said. "Everybody's a winner out here. We're playing for the causes."
After going up 2-0 on a wide open layup by Jamchy, the Israeli team found itself trailing for almost the entire game. When the legends seemed on the verge of making a run, the FDNY would answer with a three-pointer or a Peterson layup. Some instant offense from Brody could have helped, but the Israeli great would not swap his shirt and tie for a pair of shorts.
"You can't expect me at 60 to go out there and run with guys half my age," Brody said after the game. "The main thing is it's Migdal Ohr and honoring the fire department."
During the second half, starry-eyed children ran around the gymnasium halfsneakerless, asking Israeli players, firefighters, refs and event organizers to autograph their other sneakers.
The old-timers could have used the children's energy, as they were constantly beat down the court by the firefighters.
"We're not in shape, but it's no excuse," Jamchy said. "They're a great team, a great group of guys." While everyone involved agreed that the main purpose of the game was to raise money for charity, the players on both teams still played intensely, at times even showing overt dissatisfaction with the refs. After the game, however, cooler heads prevailed.
"I think the basketball game itself was the least important part," Daniel said. "The main purpose of us coming here was the people of Migdal Ohr."
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