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Hoops. Dublin’s Jermaine Hall has...Chutzpa | Sport
by By JASON HALCOMB
Jan 26, 2006 | 1302 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Friday afternoon’s get pretty boring for Jermaine Hall these days. In fact, most of his weekend is spent hanging around his apartment.

It’s all part of Hall’s most recent culture-shock, spawned from his current stop in his span-the-globe basketball career.

“Everything’s closed,” said Hall, who has spent the last six months in Israel, playing with a team in the northern part of the country. “After about 4 p.m. everything shuts down, because they start celebrating the Sabbath. And it lasts ‘till 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. Saturday.

“So, you just have to remember to take care of things. Try and get to the grocery store before everything closes.”

After spending the last four years bouncing around from Portugal to England, Poland to the United States, Hall currently calls Hapoel home and Hapoel Gilboa/Afula his most recent team.

“They’ve got a couple of different leagues over there,” Hall said. “You’ve got the first league and the second league, and I’m playing for the National League.

“It’s basically mostly Israeli guys. Each team can have one American guy, and then there are a few older American guys with Israeli passports who play in the league as well.

“Their premier league is the top league, and each team is allowed to have four American’s on those teams. Most of the young Israeli guys coming up play on the premier league.”

The former Dublin star and Wagner College standout’s luggage looks more like the back of a Winnebago; clad with stickers from various stops along the way.

After graduating from Wagner in 2003 (where he averaged more than 21 points per-game), Hall played for several state-side teams before jumping the pond to play with the Scottish Rocks and the Zagaz Koszalin of the Polish basketball leagues.

He finally found a home in Braga Baloncesto of the Portuguese league Proliga, where he averaged more than 27 points and 17 rebounds per-game over a 30-game span in 2004-05.

“I had the chance to go back and play for the same team I played for last year, and couple of teams in Portugal, but I wanted to better my opportunities for the following season,” Hall said. “And going to Israel did it.

“I was also looking at some teams in Asia, but those teams were pretty much just holding tryouts; nothing solid. The team in Israel sent me the contract, and the agreement was if they liked me, I’d play the whole season. And if they didn’t, at the halfway point, which is now, they’d replace me.

“Our team is 11-1. I guess they like me.”

When Hall came to Hapoel Gilboa/Afula (part of the Israeli National League), he had to learn an entirely different style of basketball. With most of the native-born players standing at or below Hall’s 6’5” frame, the Israeli’s adapted a much more structured system.

“It’s more set,” Hall said. “We run a few plays, and every time down they start with a pick and roll. They don’t have as many athletic guys that can run and jump like us over here, but the game is fast.”

The power forward has mastered the new style pretty well, averaging more than 23 points and 10 rebounds per-game through the mid-point of the season, including a 41-point performance against Maccabi Tel-Aviv of the Israeli Premiere League.

“Yeah, they actually beat the Raptors in the preseason,” Hall said. “It was a big game for us. I had like 41 points that game. And we were in it until the fourth quarter.”

When Hall made it to Israel, he was greeted with some pretty familiar sites for such a foreign locale.

Unlike Portugal, where he had to learn the local language in order to assimilate into the foreign culture, the Israeli culture has taken a decidedly American tone in many facets.

Fast-food restaurants like McDonald’s and Burger King can be found on most corners, and sporting good stores are chalk-full with American sneakers and the latest styles, which came as quite a shock for Hall, who dealt with a serious culture-lag in Portugal.

“You’ve got some different religious cultures, like the real strong Jewish culture, but you’ve also got a lot of Christians and Muslims,” .

“Everything else is a lot like America; movies, restaurants, clothes. There’s a lot of American influence over there.

But Hall added some things, like food, come with religious caveats.

“...You can’t get a cheeseburger, because it’s not kosher. They don’t eat meat with cheese. They don’t drink milk, and they don’t mix dairy with beef.

“Like at Burger King they’ve got the Whopper, but you just can’t get it with cheese.

“Dominos is kosher too, so you don’t get any meat on your pizza.

“It’s surprising to me, because they get a lot of the stuff at the same time we do. I was in a shopping mall one day, and I noticed that they got a lot of the same stuff like the newest shoes or clothes the same day we’d get it in America.”

But it’s still several thousand miles away, which took a while for his family in Dublin to get used to. They also had to get used to Hall living in a political hotbed, where tensions have led to daily terrorist attacks that make their away onto American television on a daily basis.

It was a concern Hall considered, until he got to Israel and started mingling with the people.

“The people in Israel are real nice. They really work with you,” Hall said. “(The terrorist attacks are) escalated on CNN. Yeah, you do have the occasional suicide bomber that we don’t have here in America. But here we have guys that do stuff like get in car chases and commit murder.

“...I could stay there and play for three or four more years,” Hall added. “I feel real comfortable, and my family is real comfortable with the situation now.”
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