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Friday, November 1, 2013

Falcon's Nest Notes: Day 1 in Memphis, TN

Coach Avi Borenstein with Falcon Reserves 
For the Yeshivah of Flatbush Varsity Boys Basketball Team, Day One of the Cooper Invitational Yeshiva Basketball Tournament in Memphis, Tennessee was a day of ups and downs and ups.
Flatbush Falcons pray in airport before they depart to Memphis
After an early morning departure that involved the question of which would arrive first, the car conveying the last four members of the team or a taxi carrying teffilin as its lone passenger, the team arrived to a rain-drenched Memphis looking forward to experiencing “The Cooper.” A late afternoon matchup had the 10th seeded Falcons taking on the 7th seed jaguars from the New Community Jewish Day School of Los Angeles, California. The boys from Flatbush brought their unique brand of pressure defense from the get-go, and an early 3-pointer from Senior team leader Joey Dayon staked the Falcons to a lead they kept throughout the entire first half. What was most impressive about the play of the Falcons was the vastly improved rebounding at both ends of the court, led by Forwards Victor Silverman and Murray Mizrahi and Centers Shawn Blinder and Mayer Kamkhatchi. This was further complimented by some crisp interior passing to the team’s “bigs” that yielded much needed inside scoring balance to the outside shooting of Dayon and Michael Haddad. By the end of the half, the Flacons enjoyed a slim lead over the rival Jaguars.
Joey Dayon turns the corner and is fouled
The second half showed both how far the team has come in a few short weeks of play and how far it still has to go. After a slow start, the Falcons began stretching their lead late in the third quarter, nearly reaching double digits. But just as it looked like Flatbush might put their opponents away, the Jaguars slowly clawed their way back, taking the lead for the first time with 6 minutes remaining in the game. But Flatbush would not fold, and with less than 2 minutes to play, the Falcons reclaimed the lead. Foul shooting again came to the fore, and while the team showed much improvement in that area during the game, a missed free-throw left the Falcon lead at two. The Jags tied the game on their next possession. With the ball and under 30 seconds to play, the Falcons looked to hold the ball for the final shot of regulation, but an errant shot at the 22-second mark gave the ball back to the Jaguars, forcing Flatbush to play defense in the hopes of preserving the tie and going to overtime. But it was not to be. The jaguars hit a contested shot in the lane, leaving 10 seconds for the Falcons to try to hit the equalizer. With three seconds left, the ball found its way to Sam Silverman who drove the lane and elevated for a pull-up jumper. It looked to all as if he drew a foul, but none was called. Time expired with the Falcons on the losing end, dejected and disappointed by the outcome of 49-47, but having earned great respect from a team that routinely scores in the 80’s every game and keeping them in the 40’s.
Murray Mizrahi, pre-game warm-up
Joey Dweck, pre-game warm-up

Later in the evening, the team would begin to learn that Cooper is about more than just basketball. At a nearby synagogue, all the 16 teams taking part in the tournament gathered together for Ma’ariv, followed by dinner. While dining and rehashing the event s of the opening round, the participants listened to words of Torah presented by fellow competitors, were inspired by remarks from 2-time NBA Champion Mike Miller (now a member of the Memphis Grizzlies) who also entertained questions from a select few players (one of whom being Flatbush Falcon Mayer Kamkhatchi), were awarded signed basketballs (5 were raffled off, with one going to Flatbush’s own Allen Maleh!) and most importantly learned who their next round opponents would be. It was here that Flatbush was given a modicum of redemption as well as a wealth of respect. After reviewing the opening games, the winners all advanced to Tier I, but the losing teams moved to Tier II and were reseeded by the committee based on the day’s performances. Flatbush was awarded the top seed in Tier II, and will take to the court Friday morning, looking to bring home a championship from Memphis. GO FALCONS!
Michael Haddad plays tenacious Defense
Nest Notes: The Flatbush Girls Hoopsters swept a regular season-opening doubleheader from Kushner on Wednesday night, with the Varsity winning going away by a score of 44-37 and the JV pulling out a nail-biter winning 35-33. The varsity was led by Victoria Gindi and Rose Mishaan who scored 17 and 8 points respectively; the JV was led in scoring by Samantha Chabot who tallied 12 points and Sarah Horowitz who added 7 points.