USA men’s hoops maintains Maccabiah dominance

Time and again, the buzzer went off on the Australians’ shot clock due to the Americans’ crippling pressure and intense backcourt defense.

  AUSTRALIA WAS overmatched against Team USA in Maccabiah men's basketball action, but still played with heart in a 77-42 defeat. (photo credit: JULIA ROBBINS)
AUSTRALIA WAS overmatched against Team USA in Maccabiah men's basketball action, but still played with heart in a 77-42 defeat.
(photo credit: JULIA ROBBINS)

Continuing its strong start in the 21st Maccabiah Games, the USA Men’s Open Basketball team routed the Australians 77-42 this week in a game that an Australian fan noted was akin to David fighting Goliath.

The Americans followed up that win with a 92-71 conquest of Team Israel on Tuesday evening.

The USA team is currently sitting pretty with a 4-0 record with additional wins against Argentina and France, while the Australians are still looking for their first win after losses to the US, Israel, Argentina and Canada.

Strengthened by their height, experience and athleticism, the Americans have dominated virtually every game, particularly against the Aussies. They were relentless in their defense and full-court pressure for much of the game, not letting up even when they were up by dozens of points in the second half.

Time and again, the buzzer went off on the Australians’ shot clock due to the Americans’ crippling pressure and intense backcourt defense.

 USTRALIA WAS overmatched against Team USA in Maccabiah men's basketball action, but still played with heart in a 77-42 defeat. (credit: JULIA ROBBINS) USTRALIA WAS overmatched against Team USA in Maccabiah men's basketball action, but still played with heart in a 77-42 defeat. (credit: JULIA ROBBINS)

“The Americans are better in every facet of the game,” the Australian fan commented during the game.

USA outrebounded 37-30, boasted 19 steals compared to Australia’s two, and had nine turnovers compared to the Aussie’s 16.

Even with their impressive statline by the end of the game, the beginning of the game saw the Americans up only 20-13 at the end of the first quarter. The score at the end of the half, 39-23, continued to reflect the steady increase in two teams’ abilities.

One of the reasons the Australian team struggled against the Americans is that many of the Australians play club basketball while the Americans hail from prestigious NCAA programs in the US, including Harvard University, Amherst College, and Princeton University.

That experience gap was clear throughout the game and prompted an Australian fan to say at the game’s onset that he’d bet his life savings on the Americans winning.

He should’ve gambled.

In the third quarter, the US’s Sam Silverstein, a player at Harvard, landed an explosive slam dunk that brought the score to 52-29.

Midway through the third quarter, an American watching the game commented that it was “ridiculous” that the Americans were continuing their full-court press when the team from Down Under was, in fact, quite down under.

At the end of the third quarter, the Americans brought their lead to 61-33, expanding the already large gap.

Even throughout the final stanza, the Americans were unrelenting in their defensive and offensive intensity en route to the 35-point triumph.

Benjamin Gealer, who plays for Stanford back in the States, said he was proud his team was able to convert on easy layups. He also said that the team needs to “practice shooting and talk strategies” for their upcoming games.

One of the Australian captains, Noah Rosham, said the team had known the game would be “a hard battle” against such great athletes.

AUSTRALIA WAS overmatched against Team USA in Maccabiah men's basketball action, but still played with heart. (credit: Sydney Maud)AUSTRALIA WAS overmatched against Team USA in Maccabiah men's basketball action, but still played with heart. (credit: Sydney Maud)

“We came into it wanting to work as hard as we could… and to try to limit their score as well as we could.”

True to Rosham’s word, the Australians never gave up their fight throughout the game and let up only 16 points in the final quarter, following the opening three quarters in which the Americans scored 20, 19, and 22 points, respectively.

“Aussie, Aussie, Aussie – Oy, Oy, Oy”

Aussie spectators

And to the Aussie spectators’ credit, their fans stayed in good spirits the whole game, with chants of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie – Oy, Oy, Oy” reverberating through the gym coupled with exuberant cheering when their boys in green-and-white scored.

Perhaps the most notable moment of the game took place on the sidelines when the ball flew into the stands and a young boy tried to run away with it before throwing it back into the court.

Any scouts watching would have been unimpressed to see that the kid didn’t dribble the ball and instead ran with it in his arms, foreshadowing a lackluster basketball future for the young rabble-rouser.