Friendship Games – Saturday Highlights


Friendship Games – Saturday Highlights
Jul 1, 2017

By Alex Flum, Monica McNutt and Hannah Yasharoff

Photo by Alex Flum

Eilat, Israel —  The cultural exchanges that highlighted the first day of the 12th annual Friendship Games gave way Saturday to the the primary draw of the event for the players – playing basketball.

On Friday, attendees bonded over mixed 3-on-3 basketball scrimmages, a three-point shootout and a dunk contest. Ignas Labutis of Lithuania won the dunk contest by jumping over his teammate, while a trio of players from the Jewish Israeli team, Yehonatan Alfasi, Oz Vaturi and Sagiv David (plays for the Israeli Basketball Super League, one of the top basketball leagues in the country), captured the title in the three point competition. The players hope their sharpshooting will help them advance to Wednesday’s final round and dethrone four-time reigning champs and this year’s dunk contest winner Lithuania.

The international tournament tipped off Saturday with all 13 teams in action.

Game of the Day: Fureidis Israel v Palestine: 39-34

In what got off to a slow start but turned out to be the most competitive contest of the day, Fureidis Israel (Israeli Arab team) defeated Palestine, 39-34.

With less than a minute to go, Fureidis sank a 3-pointer to create a seven point lead and some breathing room. They won, 39-34. Fureidis Coach Shadi Abu Arisha said he was thrilled with the victory, playfully proclaiming it his first win as a coach to all who would listen.

His brother, Zidan Abu Arisha, made his presence felt on the hardwood as a shot blocker, giving Fureidis an edge in the second half. Later in the day, Fureidis lost its second game to ASA Israel, 45-28. Next, they’ll face four-time Friendship Games’ reigning champion Lithuania on Sunday.

Score Roundup:

Men’s Bracket:

Ukraine 57, Jordan 32

Fureidis Israel 39, Palestine 34

Poland 48, Eilat 35

Eilat 53, Jordan 46

Ukraine 43, Poland 42

ASA Israel 45, Fureidis Israel 28

Lithuania 66,  Palestine 45

Women’s Bracket:

Lithuania 56, Yafia Israel 18

ASA Israel 51, Jordan 19

Russia 49, Yafia Israel 9

Lithuania 36, ASA Israel 28

Feature of the Day:

Ukraine head coach Leonid Derbaba is proving basketball has no retirement age. At 81, Derbaba is as passionate for the game as he was as a boy and has spent much of his career working to further develop the game of basketball within Ukraine. In this video, he discusses his love for the sport, his involvement with the Friendship Games and how age is just a number for him.

Friendship Games Podcast: The Beginning

Magic and Bird, Federer and Nadal, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova: sports have the power to bring together individuals who might not otherwise have met.

With that in mind, the annual Friendship Games in Eilat, Israel, aims to bring young basketball players from all around Europe, the Middle East and Russia to forge relationships that go against cultural divides.

To delve deeper into the research behind the Games’ success, this inaugural episode of the Friendship Games podcast features Michael Leitner, an author and professor in the US and Israel with a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in Recreation and Leisure Studies.

The discussion included:

  • A brief background on the Friendship Games
  • Surprise, Beyonce is the great international unifier
  • Why Eilat heat is better than D.C. heat
  • The research behind the success of the Games
  • Why sports are a great tool for conflict resolution


The event’s organizers sponsored student coverage of the Friendship Games. Editorial control of the coverage and content remained with the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism and the Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

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