CHLOE ROTHMAN AND TEAM USA EARN GOLD MEDAL AT MACCABIAH GAMES
Capping off an undefeated, five-game run against international competition, rising junior Chloe Rothman (Newton, Mass.) helped Team USA top Israel, 72-56, in the Gold Medal Game of the Maccabiah Games held in Israel.
Rothman, who has provided updates from Israel for nearly three weeks, added one last installment from her blog:
There is a different energy felt when playing for your country. I've been in a lot of big games in my life but never with "USA" written across my chest. I don't really get nervous before I compete but I felt nervous before this one. I couldn't stop thinking about the game before I went to sleep Sunday night and I craved for the tip-off all Monday leading up to the 5:30 p.m. game time.
It wasn't until our coach's pre-game speech, where she talked about playing for each other and playing for pride, that the nerves disappeared and trust in my teammates magnified.
Their stands were filled and the place was alive. I felt great and I could sense my teammates felt the same. We showed it too, jumping out to a quick 20-point lead in the first quarter against the feisty Israeli team that took us into overtime the first time we met. They never came within single digits of our commanding lead and we deservingly wore gold medals around out necks for the rest of the night.
Israel has a great team and they showed up to play another nail-bitter, but it would have been hard for any team to slow down the momentum we had last night. We played hungry defense, shot lights out, and had fun the whole time doing so. Canada finished with the bronze and so was there for the game and the medal ceremony, immediately after the buzzer sounded, to congratulate both teams.
After the ceremony we stayed to watch the men's team win the gold against Argentina. A successful night all around! Their game was closer but USA's athleticism was superior and they were clearly the sharper group. As we cheered for the guys, we walked around the arena, took pictures with kids, and reminisced about the game to parents and friends.
I'm also proud to say that our wheelchair basketball team took the silver medal the night before. I've become good friends with a member of the team and so a few teammates and I went to go support. It was one of the cooler things I've ever seen.
The rules are pretty similar to regular basketball but the tactics displayed, by both USA and the Israel team the played, really caught my eye. Wheelchair basketball requires a lot of communication, as does the basketball I play, but the talk is different. The wheelchairs are wide and have the ability, when placed right, to block off two opposing players at once.
I took note of this different communication as well as the strategies and concluded that setting a screen (or double screen if it was an option) in the back court for a teammate with long arms was the most successful way to convert an easy basket.
The point guard for the USA team was a woman (mixed-gender team) who had amazing court vision, handles, and the ability to pass. I later found out that before her accident (I did not find out the details) she played professionally for Israel. It's amazing how people can stick with the game they love so much even after a tragic, life-changing accident.
It was so fun to watch and cheer and although they didn't finish on top, the wheelchair players did an amazing job and opened my eye to something new.
That was just a chunk of the basketball updates, not even mentioning the younger teams or the other many sports. It is so busy here and hard to keep up with the medal count but USA is definitely representing here in Israel.
The days prior to our final game, my team watched and congratulated other athletes as they returned to the hotel dressed in medals after their games. We waited patiently for our time and it was a great feeling coming back last night to applauding and high fives from those that we supported throughout.
There will be plenty more of that tonight at closing ceremonies and I can't wait to be reunited with the rest of the USA athletes who were stationed elsewhere over the course of the games.
I really do appreciate everyone who took the time to read my blog. I love sharing my experiences with others and writing about them brings nostalgic emotions that I want to feel forever. So thank you all!
Shalom, friends! :)