July 15, 2024
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Rubenstein/Emunah Basketball Tournament Draws Israeli Team

Championship Sunday of the Rubinstein/Emunah Tournament is always an event to behold. With teams from all over Bergen County and New York City filing in through the doors of SAR from morning to night, the Yeshiva League pays tribute to the Rubinstein family and raises money for the worthy efforts of Emunah in Israel.

This year, though, was different because Israel came to the tournament. A team of ninth graders (and eighth grade sensation Dotan Klez) from the Otzma club team in Modiin traveled across the ocean to compete against their Yeshiva League junior varsity counterparts (and catch a Knick game at MSG). The Modiin team—including Moshe Scharlat who attended and played for Yavneh—took on Kushner Academy, Flatbush Yeshiva (in a scrimmage) and TABC, leading up to Sunday at SAR. Having defeated Kushner, with three starters out with illness or injury and having dropped their second tournament game to TABC, Otzma came to the Bronx looking to upend Heschel and leave galut on a positive note.

Point guard Ido “Hollywood” Apeloig got Otzma going in the first quarter with two crafty twisting, driving layups. Harel “Charlie Hustle” Siton’s defense and Noam “Smooth” Mor’s passing helped Modiin eke out a 7-6 lead at the end of one quarter.

In the second quarter Scharlat and center Ido “The Beast from the Middle East” Lupo set the tone. Scharlat hit two three-balls and Lupo asserted himself as the “Chairman of the Boards” by controlling the glass at both ends. Heschel battled mightily, but a Modiin run leading up to the halftime buzzer — capped by a deep three-ball from Sivan “Downtown” Wamburi — gave Otzma and coach Michael Sandler a 26-18 lead as the teams headed to the locker room.

Heschel came out with a press in the third quarter, forcing Otzma into some turnovers and closing the gap to 28-27. Otzma got a huge lift from Rom “The Glove” Tiktinsky, who came off the bench and played his usual suffocating defense, and chipped in with 4 points and a massive rejection in the quarter. Carmel “Carmelo” Berdichevksy and Erel “Stretch” Wachtenheim added stellar defense. Lupo kept Heschel off the glass and added a bucket of his own.

The final stanza ultimately belonged to Lupo and Scharlat again. Lupo, who compensated for the absence of fellow big man Ido “The Human Eraser” Hayut, completely shut down Heschel inside, punctuated by a resounding block. Scharlat hit 4 of 5 free throws down the stretch to seal the deal for a 42-36 win over the valiant Heschel Heat.

Scharlat finished with 14 and Tiktinsky with 7. Lupo tallied 6 points and 23—not a typo—rebounds. Siton also chipped in with 6, Apeloig with 4, Wamburi 3, and Berdi 2 more. Scharlat, who had double figures in every game, and Lupo were named team MVPs.

After the game, Otzma sat with the other teams present to hear from the Rubinstein’s grandson, and watched a video presentation about Emunah’s work for orphans in Israel. Otzma was proud to represent Israel in this worthy endeavor and looks forward to next year and another shot at the ‘ship.

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