Canada shines at the Pan Am Maccabi Games in Chile
Led by the late-game heroics of former McGill point guard and flag-bearer Ave Bross, the open men’s basketball team captured gold over the United States in dramatic fashion, with a 95-85 comeback victory in overtime, in a game the team trailed by nine points, with 40 seconds remaining in regulation.
“The one thing that was evident with our team from Game 1, was that no matter what we got down, we just kept playing,” said Bross, who nailed three consecutive three-pointers in the dying minute to send the game to overtime. “It didn’t matter the score…We’re a team that doesn’t hang our head and we’re a team that doesn’t quit.”
The win was Canada’s second over its rival during the Games, after beating USA for the first time ever in Maccabi competition during the round robin. The Canadians went 5-1 through the tournament, also defeating Guatemala, Mexico and Peru, with its lone loss coming to Argentina.
“For Maccabi Canada, this sets a standard for basketball, that we no longer have to be second or third fiddle going forward now in any tournament,” said head coach Allon Bross, savouring the moment with his son. “I’m extremely proud of this group of young Jewish men. They were focused, they played their guts out and they earned the gold medal. It wasn’t given to them – they earned it.”
Alex Brainis, the team’s assistant coach, noted that all the players bought in by signing a contract before the Games began, attesting their commitment to winning a championship. Brainis had been the only one to accomplish the feat previously, having won Canada’s first gold medal in open men’s basketball as a player in 1997.
“Nothing will take that away, but if anything ever comes close, this was it,” said Brainis. “It was a culmination of hard work and tremendous camaraderie by the athletes…When you reach that point where you fulfill the ultimate goal in such a way, it just doesn’t get any better. I’m lucky enough to have experienced that twice now.”
Canada also won an additional three medals in masters tennis. Anton Rabie, 44, and Lauren Liverman, 40, each earned bronze in singles – Liverman winning three of her four matches while Rabie came out on top of the consolation bracket – with the pair combining for a third bronze in the mixed doubles competition.
For Rabie, who played at the 2013 Maccabiah Games in Israel, the Games were a rewarding experience that were more than just about sport.
“The trip blew my mind,” said Rabie. “We took a risk going because we didn’t really know what to expect. This is one of those risks where we got massively rewarded. My kids had the best holiday they’ve ever had. It was about (them), it wasn’t about me. I would not have gone to Chile if my family didn’t come with…There’s powerful and magical information to share about Pan Am and people need to look at it as a family, cultural, Zionistic holiday.”
Liverman also brought her family to Santiago to experience her Maccabi debut, and was touched by the unity during the Games.
“You felt really proud just to be with all the different Jewish people from all over the place. Everyone was happy for anyone to win,” she said. “Whether I won or I lost, I was excited. Every time I stepped on the court, it was a fabulous feeling.
“Until you’re there, you really don’t understand the experience of what the Maccabi Games can provide for people.”
The Pan Am Maccabi Games are a regional event held every four years in a Central or South American country, organized by the Latin American Maccabi Confederation. Athletes from across the Americas, Israel and other countries participate, where the mission is “to perpetuate and preserve the Pan American Jewish community by encouraging Jewish pride, strengthening Jewish bonds and by creating a heightened awareness of Israel and Jewish identity,” according to the Maccabi World Union.
A total of 20 countries competed at this year’s event in Chile. The next Pan Am Maccabi Games will take place in 2019 in Mexico City.
Chile in the Media
Last-Minute Comeback over U.S. Gives Maccabi Canada Hoops Gold, CJN, Sheri Shefa
Canadian Basketball Team Goes For Gold At Maccabi Games in Chile, CJN, Sheri Shefa
Friends on, and off the Court: Anton Rabie and Lauren Liverman headline Masters Tennis Players for Canada, Jesse Pollock, Maccabi Canada
Men’s Open Basketball Team Seeks Pan Am Redemption – Maccabi Canada, Alan Hudes
Bross is boss, McGill grad sparks comeback as Canada stuns USA to capture gold at Maccabi Games in Chile, McGill Athletics, Earl Zukerman
Usher to Represent Canada Again at the Pan Am Games, Shalom Toronto, Jack Borenstein
Exciting News From Chile – Maccabi Canada, Tali Dubrovsky
Opening Ceremonies Video, The Cow Company