Return of the champions
Tel Aviv basketball team arrives home to rejoicing fans after winning the Euroleague Final Four tournament in MIlan.
After entering the tournament as underdogs, the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team defeated Spain’s Real Madrid 98-86 in overtime on Sunday night to win the Euroleague Final Four championship. On Monday night, the team returned home to a hero's welcome.
Hundreds of die-hard fans welcomed the victorious team at Ben Gurion Airport, and 20,000 more swarmed into Rabin Square in Tel Aviv for a city-wide celebration. Queen's legendary rock anthem "We Are the Champions" blared from the loudspeakers.
Coach David Blatt, a Princeton grad and former professional basketball player, now joins a rare group of coaches to have won the Euroleague title, the biennial EuroBasket championship and an Olympic medal. There's even been speculation that he might join an NBA team.
The Brooklyn-born Sylven Landesberg, who just completed his second season as a guard for the Tel Aviv team, tweeted his appreciation of his new country.
Amazing the support Israel is giving us. Feels like we brought together an entire country. This is by far the most amazing feeling ever...— Mansa (@sl15) May 19, 2014
The players of Maccabi Tel Aviv are a diverse group. While many are from Israel and the United States, others hail from all over the world, including Greece (Sofoklis Schortsanitis), Australia (Joe Ingles) and Croatia (Andrija Žižic). Many of the players have relocated and made Israel their home. Which is not surprising, considering the warm welcome they received this week when they landed at the airport:
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