Israelis outgun foreigners in all-star clash

BSL brings back entertaining extravaganza as local heroes prevail in 122-117 shootout

Lior Eliyahu_311 (photo credit: BSL website)
Lior Eliyahu_311
(photo credit: BSL website)
After a seven-year hiatus, the BSL allstar game returned to Israel on Tuesday night, bringing along with it a celebration of excess, fast breaks, and turnovers.
An enjoyable, albeit sloppy, game featured the BSL’s best local talent – those with Israeli citizenship, including Maccabi Haifa’s Sylven Landsberg and Maccabi Tel Aviv’s David Blu – defeating the foreign imports 122-117.
The matchup lacked competitiveness for the most part, as the Israelis raced out to a 10-point lead early in the first quarter and were able to maintain it until there were five minutes left.
Both teams seemed to sense the gravity of the situation at that point, signified by a heightened defensive intensity on both sides.
The foreigners closed to 116-112 with a minute-and-a-half remaining, but Israeli stalwart Meir Tapiro countered with a driving layup.
Maccabi Ashdod’s Ramel Bradley then had three free throws to get his side within a possession, but nailed only two of them.
The Israelis then hit their free throws down the stretch to wrap up the win.
Lior Eliyahu was named MVP, and finished with a game-high 27 points.
Bradley led the foreigners with 26.
It was a game full of many more highs than lows, as each player tried his best to leave his stamp on a game that was arranged solely for them to showcase their talent.
But the most electrifying moment of the evening came at halftime, when Mac TA’s Jeremy Pargo turned in an otherworldly jam to earn a share of the slamdunk contest title with Adrian Banks.
Pargo approached the rim from the right wing, flipping the ball into the air. As it bounced back up, he launched towards the basket, caught the ball with his right hand, switched it through his legs to his left, and whipped home a vicious slam.
“I hadn’t practiced the dunk that much, it was just something I had in my head,” Pargo said. “I’ve been doing it pretty regularly since I was 18, so I knew I’d be okay. But it was definitely fun to do it here tonight.”
Also emerging victorious was Hapoel Gilboa/Galil’s Jack McClinton, who won the three-point contest, with 21 points in the final, three better than Blu. McClinton’s performance would have been the seventhbest in NBA all-star history.
“I’m a shooter,” said McClinton, who also won the American collegiate threepoint contest while at the University of Miami. “I haven’t been shooting it as well as I want to so far this year, and it was a little tough doing it in front of my home crowd. But shooters keep on shooting, and that’s what I’ve done for my whole life.”
All of the other hallmarks of an all-star game were present as well, including a steady dose of both blown and converted alley-oops, a dearth of fouls called, and plenty of smiling faces on court.
But basketball was not the lone item on the menu.
Hapoel Gilboa/Galil’s home stadium holds only 2,000 people, but that didn’t prevent 50 dancers, a live band, numerous giant bounding lottery balls, and a microphone- wielding Guy Zuaretz – the host of Israeli Survivor – from crowding into it.
Another non-basketball highlight came from Bradley in the second quarter.
While wearing sunglasses, the league’s second-leading scorer delivered a two-minute performance of one of his original raps, while dozens of cheerleaders danced confusedly around him, unsure exactly of what style to employ.
It also wasn’t rare to see opponents with their arms around each other during free throws, players texting while on the bench, and referees shrugging off clear out of bounds calls.
But in the end, the all-star celebration gave Israeli basketball fans what they’ve been pining for since 2003: their favorite players being themselves, doing what they do best.