Wednesday July 13: After last night's cliffhanger with the train, I decided to stay in Netanya the last two nights of the Games. Talia dropped me off at one of the Tel Aviv stations in plenty of time for the 16:08 train...if it had come then.
About half an hour later, a packed, grumpy crowd jostled onto the late train. At Netanya, the moniot (taxis), which were plentiful the day before, were nowhere to be seen. Finally, I snagged a seat on one. Sorry, Jon
But they won in the third game, against the Mexicans, putting them into the medal round on Friday. Later, Jon said if it came down to the U.S. vs Israel, Mexico said they'd cheer us on. Hemispherics, I guess. And Mexico came with a healthy cheering committee!
BTW, in Hebrew we are Artzot-ha'Brit (Lands of the Covenant, because of our nation's/states' contractual obligations to that fine document, the Constitution).
Next up, at ~6:15 pm: Ami and Ilan, playing the Australians. As the game started, the other side chanted "Ozzy, Ozzy" for each point. Hmmm, one of their player's names? No, duh, Michal, that's how you pronounce Aussie. Their players are Max and Danny.
Ami and Ilan won the first game 21-16, with some gravity-defying defence. The ball would look like it was dropping into the Siberia corner of the court and somehow the guys would dig it out and over. Nice defence today, guys!
The second game was definitely more touch-and-go: 5-5, 7-7, 10-10, point by point. Arrgggg, where's my tension relief? It was about then I noticed Ami spit. "25 cents," I said to myself without even thinking. At about bar mitzvah age, Ami picked up this spitting thing. Not nice. So I started charging him a quarter per spit. The total bill for today: ~$1.50. But he said it was the sand...not a usual thing.
Ami's pretty scary-looking when he's about to put down a hit (spike). Kinda Darth Vador in your face. He and Ilan finally started pulling ahead, each of them placing nice, hard-to-reach shots along the line. Point 19 really rocked! Can't remember why, think it was some incredible block. And...then...it was 21-13. Into the medal round for them as well.
Tomorrow, US 1 plays Israel 2 and US 2 (Ami/Ilan) plays Israel 1. These will be tough games. Best possible results of all these games will be US 1 vs US 2. Kaef! (Fun!)
We then cheered on the final game of 2 of 3, US women vs Canada women. The US women, Melody and Fran, played tough, but the Canadians played tougher. Like all 4 US men, the US women are from Los Angeles.
Aside: In Tel Aviv, which is either "blue" or too busy to bother, I didn't see any orange strips flying from car antennas. Orange = anti-Gaza pullout. Here, I see a fair amount. Should I fly some blue? Nah, I'm here for sports. Ok, so I showed a bit of my political ankle. I'm trying to keep this only to sport. But, hey, this is Israel.
Ami and I walked back to the King Solomon Hotel along the landscaped seaside promenade overlooking the beach, now soft-looking in the fading light and rising breeze. Scents of rosemary and honeysuckle, tangy and sweet mixing, filled the air. Oh so pretty.
We stopped at the central square, a huge open area centered on a large, bubbling, splashing fountain and edged by shops and open-air restaurants. We had strawberry-banana smoothies at the Yotvatah restaurant. Mmmmm. I did not hydrate enough today.
At dinner, we sat with the "Ozzies," Max, Danny, and a dad/official. Discussed what the US women could have done to pull ahead, how best to visit Australia, whether the ice cream was really "cream" since the dinner buffet included meatballs spiced with cinnamon and cumin. And, of course, lots of joking around.
There's a fine camaraderie here among players and countries. As Ami said earlier as we sipped smoothies, this is mostly about the Maccabiah and this feeling of "hey, we're from everywhere, we're athletes, and we're all Jews."
Mea culpa for spelling mistakes and any lack of photos. I'm at an Internet "cafe" (without the cafe) and I'm on a time clock and, as usual, wondering about workable usb ports. Cindi--more on Ilan and jazz tomorrow.