Israel’s basketball tradition is long and exciting. In a sense, they are unique, not in how they play basketball, but in the fact that their basketball teams have competed in two continents, Asia and Europe. Due to political problems with their neighbors, they were forced to compete as part of FIBA Europe even though they are in Asia.
Their national basketball team had great success on basketball tournaments both in Asia and Europe. On Asian soil, they won two gold medals in 1966 and 1974, and a silver one in 1970. After they started to compete in Europe, their most significant success happened at the Eurobasket in 1979 when they won the silver medal. Other than that they have twice qualified for the FIBA world cup and once for the Olympic Games basketball tournament.
Israel NBA Players:
Casspi was born June 22, 1998, in Holon, Israel. He stands at 6’ 9” and can cover both small and power forward. He started his professional basketball career as a youngster in the famous Maccabi Tel Aviv. His second club in Israel, before moving to the NBA was Hapoel Galil Elyon. He went in the NBA through the 2008 Draft when he was picked as 23rd by the Sacramento Kings. Then he became the first Israeli to enter the NBA. Since then he had played in eight NBA clubs. Currently, he is part of the Memphis Grizzlies roster.
Leaf was born in Tel Aviv, April 30, 1997. He is 6’ 10” and plays as a power forward. He started playing basketball in the high school where his father, Brad Leaf coached him. Before signing up for the 2014 draft, he played one season college basketball for UCLA. In 2017, he was drafted by the Indiana Pacers as 18th pick during the first round. Almost instantly he was sent to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in the NBA G League. There he averaged 23 points and 8 rebounds per game before he was recalled to the Pacers.