By Jon Orbach
For the Mitzpeh
The National Hillel Basketball Tournament took a break from regulation play to host an all-star game, the first of the 56-team tournament’s history, in Ritchie Coliseum.
Hillel Assistant Director Maiya Chard-Yaron said the idea was conceived and cultivated by the 25-person student board that “really runs the ins and outs of the tournament.”
“It gives more players a chance to keep playing on Sunday—maybe lost last night or lost early this morning,” she said. “It also gives people another chance to play with and meet students from other schools.”
The teams had no meaningful distinctions apart from shirt-color, and while the game had its intense moments, the players were focused less on the score and more on camaraderie and a number of failed dunk attempts.
Hillel Campus Recruitment Officer Mia Carmel, who was in charge of organizing the all-star game, said the teams were chosen randomly.
“We were supposed to have a lot more guys show up for the game, but honestly this is better,” the economics and public policy major said. “These are the most committed, enthusiastic players of the tournament.”
Tzvia Melman, a sophomore at Lander College for Women, was there to watch her boyfriend, Jordan Hod, represent Yeshiva University in his fourth appearance at the tournament.
“It’s pretty entertaining to watch,” she said. “They’re really good. It’s kind of a lot of pressure.”
While the light shirts pulled clear by the end to muster a 44-37 victory, players from both teams gathered in the corner of the gym to take a group photo.
Lev Abakas, a sophomore computer science major at Cornell University, had a nice time overall.
“It was a lot of fun just playing with other Jewish guys,” he said. “I was probably the worst player in the game, but it was a lot of fun.”
He did note its less competitive nature.
“Other games are certainly a little more intense, so I kinda preferred that,” he said. “I’m not really a one-on-one type player.”
There will be more all-star games in the tournament’s future, two NHBT board members said.
Carmel believes there should be a different way of appointing players, however.
“Originally we wanted to do a point system, but we thought it’d be too complicated,” Carmel said. “So we decided to have captains of the teams nominate their best player. We ran into some problems because some captains think that they’re the best player on the team, so it’s awkward to nominate yourself.”