College of the Canyons men’s basketball head coach Howard Fisher has been in Israel coaching the USA Youth Men’s Basketball team during the 20th World Maccabiah Games. The following is the fourth and fifth in a series of journal entries sharing his thoughts and experiences throughout the trip. Saturday, July 15 Team USA is headed to the gold medal game at the 20th World Maccabiah Games! We came into the semifinal matchup ready to battle, and that’s exactly what we had to do. After a rocky start, an intentional foul, and subsequent ejection, of an Argentine player helped spark the U.S and we went on a big run to close out the first half with a 30-point lead. Team USA was able to sustain that pace, eventually winning by an 83-55 final score. The United States will now face the host nation, Israel, in the gold medal game. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. Israeli time (10 a.m. PDT), Sunday. We are excited for the opportunity to play Israel at Romema Arena, the 5,000-seat home court for the Maccabi Haifa Basketball Club. Our original goal of winning the gold medal is within reach! We’ll use the two days of rest leading up to the gold medal game to allow a few of our players’ injuries to heal. Hopefully, we can emerge from Sunday’s game with the opportunity for our team to join together in singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Monday, July 17 After two days off following our semifinal victory, we had a morning shootaround and prepared to face Israel in the gold medal game on Sunday night. It was a high energy game with Team USA jumping out to an early 8-2 lead. Our largest lead was eight points in the first quarter. The first half was back-and-forth with the U.S. holding a 45-43 lead heading into halftime, despite a poor three-point shooting percentage. In the second half, Israel got hot from the field and put together it’s largest lead at eight points with less than eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter. We then went on a 14-3 run to end the game at 92-80, giving Team USA the gold medal victory. It was an exciting game to be a part of and the excitement in the arena was palpable. The medal ceremony included Canada (Bronze), Israel (Silver) and USA (Gold). With family and friends cheering, our team took to the center of the court and embraced the experience together. We then shared the floor with all three teams together in a large group photo. On Monday we took part in the Maccabiah Games closing ceremony at the Memorial Site and Armored Corps Museum in the historic community of Latrun. We arrived at sundown as athletes from all 80 participating nations were gathered together, trading pins, T-shirts, uniforms, jerseys, hats and other paraphernalia. The host of the event was model/actress, Bar Refaeli. It was an exciting evening with music, dancing and fireworks! One of our team’s themes through the games was memories, and I’m certain that the relationships and experiences this team shared will long be remembered! Today marked the end of a journey of 12 young men who came together, united, in the 20th Maccabiah theme: Better, Higher, Together. It was an honor to be associated with such a diverse, unique and high character group of young men. The World Maccabiah Games are the world’s third largest international sporting event, with more than 9,000 total participants representing over 75 nations. The Signal ran Coach Fisher’s journals courtesy of COC Sports Information.