By Amy Samin
Prior to the start of the Israeli National Team’s FIBA 2013 EuroBasket campaign, naturalized Israeli forward of the National Team and Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv, Alex Tyus, took the time to answer questions posed by fans on Maccabi’s official Facebook page. Tyus asked us to let you know that he is very excited to start playing for Maccabi this season, and can’t wait to meet the team’s thousands of fans at Nokia Arena.
How does it feel to be part of the top basketball team in Israel and Europe?
It has been humbling. I am honored to play for such a prestigious club like Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Why did you choose to play for Maccabi and not another team?
I choose to play for Maccabi because I am Israeli and love living in Israel. I also wanted to play for Coach Blatt.
Do you think you and Shawn James can control the paint and win the Euroleague this year?
Yes of course we will!
How far do you think Maccabi will go this year?
We have the ability to go far this year. All we need to do is stick together and stay humble.
Which part of your game do you think is the most important to improve?
Free throw shooting is where I need the most improvement. Next would be to work on my mid-range shots.
What is your best position? Power forward or center?
PF is my best position because I am most comfortable playing there offensively and defensively. However I am always willing to play any position to help my team be successful.
How do you think you will fit into this new team?
I think I will fit in well. It looks like a good group of guys and I am excited to get to know everyone and begin practices.
If you had the choice of playing for either Team USA or Israel, which would you choose and why?
I would pick Israel. This country has taken me under its wing and has taken care of me. Any opportunity to give back to it is important to me.
Which player is your role model?
I think I am similar to a younger Kenyon Martin
How do you feel when you dunk the ball?
It's a great feeling being able to make a highlight play for the fans and usually they are momentum changers to help the team.
Are you willing to be the leader of the team this year?
I am always willing to be a leader on a team. It is not in my character to be a loud and vocal leader however I try to lead by example. I try to play hard everyday in practice and off the court I always try and be there for my teammates.
What are your expectations for this season?
I expect to win Euroleague and the Israeli League/cup
What do you think about Tel Aviv specifically and Israel in general?
Tel Aviv is one of my favorite places in the world. But I have so much love for Israel. Being Jewish and living in Israel is difficult to put into words but all I can say is it is amazing.
Why did you convert to Judaism and do you consider yourself a believer?
My wife and I converted to Judaism because we felt that our beliefs, way of life, and heart were Jewish. We wanted to raise our family in a Jewish home and to be part of Israel. We just had to go to classes for it to be “official.”
My wife and I are both believers. We have been involved with the Jewish communities where ever we have lived. We are a part of the Delta Chabad in Brentwood, California, where we have a home. My wife is very involved with them. And we were very involved in the University of Florida’s Hillel and Congregation B’nai Israel in Gainesville, Florida. We try and keep Shabbat when we can.
Do you feel more Israeli or more American?
That’s an interesting question. In some ways I feel more American and other ways I feel more Israeli. When I am in America I feel more Israeli because there are not a lot of Jewish people and the holidays are barely celebrated. I feel like I am the only one sometimes. That feeling makes me have a strong connection to Israel and it makes me miss and feel Israeli. However, when I am in Israel I feel more American because I am not fluent in Hebrew. I am fluent in American English and everyone treats me like I am American. But I am also Black which adds to the diversity. I think I do a good job embracing each part of who I am. I equally love the USA, Israel, and my black heritage.