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Euroleague: Maccabi, the exile of the team from a country at war: “There is no one who has not lost a family member or friend” | Euroleague 2023

Maccabi – Real Madrid (20.15 h.)

Updated Tuesday, November 28, 2023 – 01:17

The Tel Aviv team, which hosts Madrid today, lives and plays its games in Belgrade. Chema Berrocal, second coach, explains to EL MUNDO the strange situation: “I see a lot of pain around me.”

Lorenzo Brown and Baldwin, in the Pionir Room against Bara.MACCABIEuroliga Classification and results

On October 7, while the terrible attack by Hamas was taking place, the motives of the Berrocal family They began to issue unusual alerts. That morning, the second coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv spent it in the mamat, the bunker of her home, with her wife and her two twin children. He was not afraid, but it was disturbing, he remembers, the exceptional situation of the team from a country at war, exiled by obligation and security in Belgrade, where this Tuesday (8:15 p.m.) they receive, as a local and without an audience in the tribunes of the Hall Pionir (just a few banners with slogans like Bring them home now! or Stronger together), to Real Madrid and thus solve the match that was postponed on that day for the Euroleague.

The legendary Maccabi, six-time European champion (1977, 1981, 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2014), is the pride of Israel, a symbol of Jewish sport that, due to the conflict with Gaza, escaped first to Cyprus – with our families, we were nomads around Europe for 20 days. It was not easy to run out of the country – and then settle in the capital of Serbia, where their players and coaching staff live in apartments, an exceptional situation from which they try to get something positive.

As unthinkable as a member of the press department having to march to the front. It was shocking to see him in uniform, sending us messages from the war. It shocked me. It was a relief that he returned, says Berrocal, a former assistant to Svetislav Pesic first and Xavi Pascual later in Bara, king of Europe, and a globetrotter who never cared about adventure (enter Ukraine, Bahrain, Turkey or Greece), but who could not imagine himself in such a situation, doing more than being a psychologist with a staff that abounds. sadness and pain around.

Berrocal, in a training session.MACCABI

I am the most senior technician and group management is not important now, it is essential. I have a great responsibility, we cannot take what is happening in the war as our own. We remind you that you have to try to put everything aside and when we are on the track, enjoy a little. Take advantage of the opportunity that basketball gives us to be together, says the person who was recruited by Odd Cattash – that voracious scorer whose career was ruined by a knee injury – at the beginning of last season.

In the squad there are Americans like the Spaniard Lorenzo Brown -or Cubans, like the former Valencia player, Jasiel Rivero– who do not understand very well what is happening, far from warm Tel Aviv, from what were their homes. Who have had to send their children to school in Belgrade, although they do not even know if this scenario will last too long. The Israeli players have preferred to keep their families in the country, to which the team will soon have to return for another strange episode. In a few days the Hebrew League will resume and those matches will be played in Israel, although the team lives in Serbia.

Chema Berrocal, who in recent weeks has also had to overcome the trauma of the consecutive death of his father and mother, tries to apply sanity in the solitude of Belgrade, since he chose, for the first time in his life, to separate from his family. From his wife and from Jofre and Bruna, some superheroes who asked him why missiles were falling on Tel Aviv, and who have returned to their school in Badalona. You have to push as best you can, because we don’t know how long we will be there. We are still in survival mode, you feel just passing through, he explains, somewhat surprised even by the good results of a team (seventh in the Euroleague) made to aspire to the Final Four. This season, compete, fight and not give up. Whatever happens, it’s a success, he reasons.

Lorenzo Brown, with Berrocal at the back.MACCABI

Nothing is certain in Maccabi, who do not know how the matches they must play in Turkey will be resolved, a hostile country to which they cannot travel for safety reasons. A squad in a permanent state of uncertainty, always accompanied by warlike security, the protection of Mossad, and that tries to isolate itself from the banners of rejection that they have to endure in some of their games and trips. They are suffering. There is no one who doesn’t know someone who hasn’t died or been injured, who hasn’t lost a family member or friend. A player told me that the other day he spent the entire other day watching the news about the release of hostages, he confesses.

2023-11-28 00:17:07
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