April 14, 2024
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Ball in the Family: Teaneck’s Three Hod Brothers Play B-Ball Together for YU

Lior Hod and his younger brother Ayal grew up playing basketball in their home town of Holon, Israel, about twenty minutes away from downtown Tel Aviv. Competition between the brothers was fierce, and often led to brotherly scuffles, with the older, stronger Lior dominating his little brother Ayal—until Ayal’s own growth spurt leveled the playing field. As 6’4’ teens, Lior and Ayal took their talents to Cross Keys High School in Atlanta, Georgia, and eventually to Yeshiva University in upper Manhattan.

Coached and mentored by the famed Jonathan Halpert, the “Hod Towers” starred as inside (Ayal) and outside (Lior) threats during the mid-80s. During the summers, the brothers returned to Atlanta to hone their game in pro-am summer leagues that included NBA players. To gain an edge, Lior and Ayal would speak furtively in their native Hebrew so no one understood them. “By ourselves we were good, but together we were like three players instead of two.” A few years later, little brother Asaf made it three Hod brothers who donned the MACS uniform.

Fast forward thirty years, and the three brothers have given way to three more. Second year coach Elliott Steinmetz can’t just yell “Hod” as he shouts commands to the team on the Jonathan Halpert Court in Yeshiva University’s athletic center. If he did, any one of three players might respond. Under their father Lior’s watchful eye and ever-present video camera, Jordan, Justin, and Tyler Hod cut, dribble, and shoot their way through drills and scrimmages as the “MACS” prepare for their Skyline Conference games. Jordan, a senior and co-captain—and Yeshiva League champion under former Frisch coach Avi Borenstein’s tutelage—is the starting point guard who runs the show for Coach Steinmetz.

At about 5’10 on his tip toes, Jordan’s younger brothers may be taller, but his skill, heart, and court savvy put him head and shoulders above his teammates. Justin, who played in two Yeshiva League championship games, is a 6’3 shooting guard who comes off the bench, and looks to play a bigger role during his junior year. Finally, 6’1 Tyler, fresh off a year studying abroad in Israel after his 2015 Sarachek win with Frisch and MVP trophy, is his big brother’s understudy at the point, learning from Jordan how to lead a team at the college level.

And, after years of practices, training, and more AAU, City Sports, and JCC seasons than a proud parent could videotape behind them, all the years of hard work and togetherness peaked in an historic moment. On January 25, 2017, the Hod clan rose to the top of the college basketball record books when all three brothers took the court in the Max Stern Athletic Center against Sarah Lawrence College.

With Jordan, Justin, and Tyler on the hardwood simultaneously, Lior and his wife, “Superfan” Janet, watched their sons make history as for the first time in Division III college basketball and only the fourth time in all of NCAA history (the first time since the Duke Plumlee trio in 2011) three brothers played together in a game. Jordan had already played most of the game, and had several points and many assists, some on spectacular passes, when Justin and Tyler joined him. The crowd rose and cheered the other brothers on to try to score for posterity. Justin obliged, slashing to the hoop and laying one in. Ever the facilitator and consummate team player, Tyler (who resides in the same dorm room 310 that was Lior’s back in the day) was content to make sure everyone else got their shots on this special night. Which just proves that the Hods taught their boys not just basketball, but how to play the right way, together.

 

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