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When Menachem Begin and Earl Williams embraced: 40 years to the final in Strasbourg - Walla! sport

2021-03-26T11:16:23.093Z

The makeshift rubber field in the exhibition pavilion. Mickey Berkowitz's tap from the celebrations in the square. The strange injury of Shmulik Zisman. And the memory of young assistant coach Zvika Sharaf, who admits: "It was an experience I will never forget, but it is not comforting." Maccabi Tel Aviv is the European champion, today four decades ago



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Wickside: A weekly column by Ahrela Weisberg

When Menachem Begin and Earl Williams embraced: 40 years to the finals in Strasbourg

The makeshift rubber field in the exhibition pavilion.

Mickey Berkowitz's tap from the celebrations in the square.

The strange injury of Shmulik Zisman.

And the memory of young assistant coach Zvika Sharaf, who admits: "It was an experience I will never forget, but it is not comforting."

Maccabi Tel Aviv is the European champion, today four decades ago

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  • Zvika Sharaf

  • Maccabi Tel Aviv in basketball

Ahrela Weisberg

Friday, March 26, 2021, 13:55

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100,000 people, without Berkowitz and Damiko.

The celebrations in the square in 1981 (Photo: Government Press Office, Saar Yaakov)

Today 40 years ago it happened.

14 seconds before the final of the European Champions Cup final, on the makeshift green rubber field in Strasbourg, Maccabi Tel Aviv led 77:78 over Synodina Bologna.

The Italians came back from a timeout, but Jim Boothright extorted an offense from Marco Bonamico.

Mickey Berkowitz was sent to the lightweight league, and the title returned to Israel.

79:80 to the Yellows on the makeshift green rubber field in Strasbourg.

"Four years ago Tal Brody said we're on the map, so now I can say we're staying on the map," declared Captain Butright, who had to wait 48 hours before winning the trophy himself.



40 years to the second Maccabi Cup;

The trophy she won with some of the heroes of the historic title in 1977 (Berkowitz, Boothright, Moti Aroasti, Lou Silver, Ulsie Perry and Shuki Schwartz), but without Brody and Ralph Klein;

The trophy that symbolized the perfect season in the history of the club - in which the Yellows also won the Israeli double and the intercontinental trophy - but at the end they parted ways with coach Rudy Damico;

And the trophy that marked the beginning of 20 years of waiting until the next title, which was only achieved in 2001 in Paris.



Zvika Sharaf was then a young and promising 29-year-old coach. In the first final in Belgrade, he sat in the stands after being added to the delegation as a chopper to the coach of the daughter team, Maccabi South.

It is doubtful that he could have guessed that in the next hoist he would already be sitting on the bench, as Damiko's assistant;

Unfortunately, this was his last degree in senior European enterprise.

"It was the only full season of my career as an assistant," Sharaf recalled, "and it was certainly a great and amazing season that I will never forget. Not everyone has the luck and privilege to have such experiences. You gain knowledge and experience, and also memories. Tell you it's comforting. "Not completely. I contributed what I could, but I always aspired to win the trophy as head coach as well."

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"Loved relaxing at concerts."

Sharaf (center) and Damiko with Moshe Dayan in 1981 (Photo: Official Website, Maccabi Tel Aviv Archive)

As in the classic fairy tales, Maccabi Tel Aviv's 1981 model for the cup was full of butts.

A dramatic basket by Earl Williams, which led to an 86-87 home win over French side Aspo Tor, saved her from relegation even before the final;

According to the press in those days, it was a basket worth two and a half million shekels, and prevented the club from an economic crisis.

Earlier, on the way back from the intercontinental campaign, Earl Williams attacked Panathinaikos fans during a game in Athens, in what turned out to be a trailer for the memorable event in Madrid two years later.



The Yellows finished second out of six teams in the final (balance 4: 6), below Bologna (3: 7) and above Dan Bosch (5: 5), with CSK Moscow and Real Madrid closing the table. A year after the disappointing loss to Blancos in the final in Berlin, they vowed to learn lessons. the battle for the title is set for Thursday, March 26, 1981, and the Israeli delegation went to Belgium on Monday, held a training game in front of the Royal Anderlecht and the following morning landed in France - a day and a half before its rival.



finals held in Dennis Strasbourg at all was a pavilion for exhibitions . three days before the arrival of the yellow adjourned at exhibition the equipment for amputees, and works to convert the continued right up to the last moment, as during exercise final, Maccabi came adequacy hammer and drilling solely around.



both groups were outraged by the organizing committee because of the conditions placed before them. surface of the rubber was far from mentioning parquet Basketball, and the players complained about difficulty in dribbling and muscle aches in their legs, caused to them in the concluding training. That will swing the trophy, under the auspices of the chaos of the Israeli crowd on the field b

Graduation.

Standing (right): Rudy Damiko, Uri Bahrav, Earl Williams, Jim Boothright, Lou Silver, Ulsi Perry, Shuki Schwartz, Moshe Hershkovitz, Shimon Mizrahi, Zvika Sharaf.

Kneeling: Moti Aroasti, Miki Berkovich, Shmulik Zisman, Hanan Dobrish, Hanan Keren, Shmlock Makharovsky (Photo: Official Website, Maccabi Tel Aviv Archive)

About 4,000 Israelis were behind Maccabi.

On the final morning, two special EL AL flights departed: one rarely landed in Strasbourg and returned to Israel later that night;

The other landed in Stuttgart, from where the fans continued their journey of about 150 km to the pitch. They had already spent the weekend in London.



As a lesson from the hustle and bustle surrounding the team in Berlin in 1980, the club management decided to house the players in a boutique hotel called Diana Km from Strasbourg.

Eleven countries broadcast the final live, and the host France was not among them.



Many of the Israelis arrived in France without having a ticket to the game, and some managed to infiltrate the hall at the expense of those who had already secured their place and were eventually left outside.

The bulletin of the local university has been declared a sale in speculation - with French students demanding 250 francs, three times the nominal price.

In the press of those days it was reported that the Israeli crowd was placed at a great distance from the pitch, starting from the 21st row in the stands, while Bologna fans received the front rows.



The Italians appeared without Jim McMillan, who injured his knee and underwent surgery on the final day.

"I will not watch the game on TV because it will cause me too much suffering."

Even without him, they ran away to 25:34.

"But there was something special about our group," says Sharaf.

"Even when we were 15 points behind, and even when we played bad or unsatisfactory basketball, we always believed we would win."

Maccabi ran away to 43:53, before absorbing an 18: 2 run and found itself in a losing position again;

A kind of mirror image of the volatile season, which after all the squeaks ended with a victory in every cut and shape.

The final moments in the thriller final in 1981 (from Channel One)

"We had a bunch of winners, with ego, who went through crises along the way and suffered a lot of ups and downs, but in moments of truth they all always came together and crystallized," the assistant coach added at the time.



- Who was the real leader of the group?



"Every reinforcement player, good as he may be, knew he was coming to Mickey's team. That was the case with Nicky Gallis Barris, for example. Lou Silver should be mentioned in this context. He had a special connection with Mickey, and he was the connecting thread between Americans and Israelis, and so on. Also with the coaches and management. Olsey was a leader on his way too. He was the only one who managed to take over Earl, who was a climbing piece, and he was also egoless. Olsey could run eight times on offense without touching the ball, and still run first for defense. "Attacks without receiving a delivery would start to get angry."



At the end of the final, a commotion broke out on the field, because of which the trophy was awarded to Zisman and no orderly hoisting ceremony was held.

Tens of thousands of Israelis rushed to Kings of Israel Square, as in 1977.

And in Strasbourg?

"We went to eat dinner. We both celebrated, had fun, and by 5:30 we had already left for the airport," says Sharaf.



On Saturday night, the official celebration with the group took place, with the participation of 100,000 fans.

Berkowitz and Damiko were absent from it, preferring to spend a few more days in Europe and not return to Israel immediately.

Mayor Shlomo Lahat (Chich) announced in the square that within two months, construction will begin on a home field for Maccabi in the north of the city, near the exhibition grounds.

The group was then invited to a reception at the Prime Minister's Office, and Menachem Begin hugged Williams.

Reception at the Prime Minister's Office. Menachem Begin and Earl Williams embrace (Photo: Government Press Office, Herman Hanania)

- So how did the coach who brought all the titles to Maccabi not even stay for another season?



"Rudy was not a total coach. If there was no training or play, he would be cut off from the world. He liked to go to concerts, or sit down to drink wine, and that was his way of getting out of stress. Here they did not understand how the Maccabi Tel Aviv coach has time for these things. Did not live the team 24 hours a day. During the season we experienced crises, and there were even two stages where it was not clear if he would continue in his role at all. Board meetings were scheduled, but in the end they were not fired. The management was very strong then, and knew what it was doing. ".



At the end of that season, Klein returned to his post.

Sharaf moved to Hapoel Ramat Gan, before returning to Maccabi Tel Aviv from the front door and coaching it for 11 seasons in five different terms.

For Berkowitz, Arousti, Silver, Boothright and Schwartz it was the second and also last European Cup win;

Sharaf lost three finals, won the Sporta Cup with Aris Thessaloniki, and the club returned to the podium only two decades later, again on French soil.

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Source: walla

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