Hoops from the Holy Land

The professional Israeli basketball team Maccabi Haifa traveled to the Bay Area last week to play the Golden State Warriors in an exhibition game at Oracle Arena in Oakland.

Maccabi Haifa player Lior Segev gives instructions at the Oct. 10 clinic. photo/courtesy of israeli consulate

The Israeli squad gave the home team a surprising run for its money in the Oct. 11 contest, losing 108-100 to the Warriors. For comparison, Haifa was blown out 108-70 by the NBA’s New Jersey Nets in a 2010 exhibition game.

In addition to the game, five Maccabi Haifa players and  an assistant coach helped lead a basketball clinic for local children in San Francisco’s Chinatown on Oct. 10.



Maccabi Haifa’s Paul Stoll shoots with Stephen Curry defending.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee began the clinic with a short talk that praised the sister-city relationship between San Francisco and Haifa. Israeli Consul General Andy David and Jennifer Gorovitz, the CEO of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation, also spoke.

The clinic was a fundraiser for Haifa Hoops for Kids, a joint charity project of Maccabi Haifa and the United Jewish Communities of MetroWest New Jersey. The project has enabled more than 11,000 underprivileged and special needs children in northern Israel to attend Maccabi Haifa home games.

The Haifa team is composed of a good number of non-Israelis, including seven Americans on the current roster. The Warriors’ big man Jeremy Tyler, who grew up in San Diego, skipped his senior year of high school to play for Maccabi Haifa. He scored six points in 14 minutes of playing time against his former team.

Donta Smith, a former NBA player with the Atlanta Hawks, led Maccabi Haifa with 28 points. Maccabi Haifa also played the Minnesota Timberwolves in an exhibition game on Oct. 16 and lost 114-81.