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Watch the First Ever Israeli Duel in the NBA

Last night Gal Mekel and Omri Casspi squared off in the preseason

by
Adam Chandler
October 22, 2013
 Omri Casspi #18 of the Houston Rockets reacts after Solomon Hill #9 loses the ball as Chris Copeland #22 of the Indiana Pacers looks on during the NBA game at the Mall of Asia Arena on October 10, 2013 in Manila, Philippines.(Mike Young, Getty)

Omri Casspi #18 of the Houston Rockets reacts after Solomon Hill #9 loses the ball as Chris Copeland #22 of the Indiana Pacers looks on during the NBA game at the Mall of Asia Arena on October 10, 2013 in Manila, Philippines.(Mike Young, Getty)

Last night when the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks did battle, it was not just your ordinary (and typically meaningless) intra-state preseason contest. As a Houstonian, I’m obliged to say that the Rockets did win 100-95, but there was bigger news because the game featured the first match-up between Omri Casspi and Gal Mekel, the first and second Israelis to ever play NBA ball respectively. The two are also teammates from their years spent on Israel’s national team.

Casspi and Mekel don’t play the same position–Casspi’s a small forward and Mekel is a point guard–so they didn’t guard each other, but both players got some extended playing time and shared the court for several minutes in the game. Final stats bend toward Mekel, who had nine points and six assists in 22 minutes, but Casspi had quite a showing with 10 points and four rebounds over 19 minutes.

As we noted back in July, Casspi joined the Rockets after a disappointing stint in Cleveland. Mekel, formerly of Maccabi Haifa, played college ball at Wichita State and was pursued by a number of teams in the off-season before joining the Mavs.

The best part, of course, is listening to the Tex-flected television announcers absolutely butcher Casspi’s name.

Watch the Casspi/Mekel highlights below. And get excited.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.

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