In our second installment of From Long Distance, Montreal's MoJo gives us another rundown on his week playing in Israel during the regular season including a few surprises that come his way in his first league function and a breakdown of his first game. Check it all out right here ...
What’s going on folks,
A couple things have gone down since my last post. The league held a banquet in Tel Aviv (the major city in Israel) to “bring in” the regular season and give all the teams a chance to get together before the grind really begins. It was a nice event at a beautiful hotel with great food. Besides me not knowing what the hell was going on half the time because all the speakers only spoke Hebrew, the banquet got two thumbs up from me.
The best part about the banquet was catching a glimpse of all the foreign players in the league. It’s really cool to be all the way in the Middle East and to bump into guys that you have already played whether it be in high school, AAU tournaments or in college. The face that stood out the most to me was Jai Lewis. For those of you who do not recognize the name, try to remember a certain mid-major program back in the 2005-2006 season that made it to the Final Four and completely took the basketball world by storm. Now try to remember the 6’7, 290lb forward that grabbed every rebound, blasted defenders with brick wall-like screens and an amazing ability to move his feet despite his size. He played for George-Mason and the last time I saw him was in the first round of the NCAA tournament my freshmen year. We were playing in a game that (on paper) should have been a blowout but instead we became the first chapter of their Cinderella story. Jai Lewis signed with the Giants (yes the Giants… the NFL team) some years back and I didn’t know he was playing pro ball but I look forward to playing his team this season!
An even bigger surprise at the banquet was to see my man Sani Ibrahimwho spends his summers in Montreal and who I played pick up with about twice a week. Sani played at Oak Hill Academy back in 2001 or 2002 and put his name in the NBA draft. (Ed's note: Sani was in Toronto all last summer working out. Got to play with him and he's a beast!)He has been playing in top leagues all over Europe ever since. It’s a small (basketball) world! We play his team in two weeks so there is another game that I am looking forward to.
We played our first game of the regular season and came out with a L. The team played a bunch of “junk” defenses with different looks and traps. They did a good job of taking our shooters out of the game and daring other guys to beat them. We had one game of film on them and were not fully prepared to handle the different defenses they threw at us. I came out the game with 6 points and 6 rebounds on 5 shot attempts. The team we played had a player named Stanley Brundyand he is 43 years old! He was injured and did not get to play against us but I saw him on film and he is a great rebounder… AND HES 43 YEARS OLD! He has been playing in Israel for 11 years now and will soon become an Israeli citizen. I guess he’s like the Brett Favre of Israel haha! He pulled me aside after the game randomly and introduced himself. He had a lot of great things to say and advice to give. He told me about the ups and downs an overseas pro player can encounter. He told me a bit about his journey and how he has been able to play for so long. Real cool dude. We exchanged contact information and will likely get together at some point in the season. It’s always good to have people to talk to… just to pick their brains about different things especially if they have been able to play for so long and at a high level.
Our next game will be at home (Ed's Note: Mo's team plays Lev Hasharon on Oct 12) and will be a big one for us. The focus in practice has been mainly on defense this week which is good. We played like trash and scored 96 points but we gave up 101… that’s unacceptable and we really have to commit to the defensive end of the ball. It has been a good week of practice so far so I’m excited to see how we come out and compete this Tuesday in our second game. So, until next time my people! Stay cool!
Don't forget that you can follow Mo on his Twitter account, mo24jo, for all the daily happenings for him in Israel and you can also check back here for more. Stay tuned!!!