Hundreds of Thousands of Hoopster Enthusiasts Welcome Home Victorious Israeli Team
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Hundreds of Thousands of Hoopster Enthusiasts Welcome Home Victorious Israeli Team

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— A wildly cheering crowd, estimated by police at 100,000-150,000 massed outside City Hall here last night for the official welcome to the victorious Tel Aviv Maccabi basketball team returning home after winning their second European Cup Championship by defeating the Sinudyne Bologna team of Italy in the last three seconds of play in Strasbourg last Thursday night.

The Tel Aviv Maccabis last brought home the European Cup in 1977. Their second victory by the hairbreadth score of 80-79 forced Israeli fans to endure almost excruciating suspense as their hoopsters come up from behind. The Italian champions were leading 34-25 at the end of the first quarter and 39-37 at half time. Streets throughout Israel were deserted, theaters were closed and public meetings were postponed while Israelis watched the match, glued to their television sets.

When victory was assured seconds before the final gun, the tension burst and thousands of youths poured into the streets, singing, shouting and blaring automobile horns in defiance of local ordinances. The visceral reaction of Israelis to the outcome of a sports event prompted discussions by psychologists on radio and television interviews over the weekend. Some said, “We don’t know how to rejoice.” Others said Israelis let off steam in this manner because of the tensions of their daily lives.

Whatever the explanation, there are three undisputed heroes in Israel today: Mickey Berkowitz, who led the Maccabi scorers with a total of 20 points and shot the winning basket; Earl Williams, who followed him scoring 19 point; and Aulcie Perry, who scored 18 points.

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