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Israel's Yam Madar hosting a coming-out party, everyone is invited
TEL AVIV (Israel) - A coming-out party is defined as "a celebratory social gathering, with music, dancing, and refreshments, at which a young debutante is introduced to society." Sums up Yam Madar's performance over the Group Phase of the FIBA U20 European Championship 2019 perfectly, too.
"It's a big stage, everybody knows that, but I really just focus on the team. I just hope I can take the team to another level, to another chapter. I hope I'll make it," the 18-year-old point guard said after collecting the win over Ukraine, 93-74.
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Madar will turn 19 in late December, but his tender age is shown only after the game. You want to talk to him? Sure. But you'll have at least a 20-minute long wait - the photos, the autographs, the videos with the fans and the media, the handshakes, the hugs, the shouting of "YAM! YAM! YAM!" from all four stands and everything in between. Madar never stops smiling throughout the after-party, bringing his boyish enthusiasm to center stage. It's easy to see why he's becoming a fan favorite so fast.
"NO BETTER FEELING THAN THIS GYM, THIS CROWD, AND THE FACT THAT YOU'RE REPRESENTING THE ISRAELI NATIONAL TEAM. I LOVE IT."
Still, not even a Hapoel Tel Aviv player could've predicted 3,000-strong fan base for each Israeli game.
"No, no, no, no," he repeats while laughing. "Did not expect it! But I love it, seriously. (The autographs and photos) will never make me tired, I like the fans here, coming to support us."
Deni Avdija is the obvious star of the team, if not the entire FIBA U20 European Championship. But there is no "I" in "team," as the old cliche says, and Madar is Deni's biggest fan, "wishing all the best to him." The chemistry between the two is perfect, evident by their own little late-shot-clock special, a dribble hand-off for a deep three.
They had the same play in the other group games, taking Madar's assist tally to a championship-leading 26 in three games. He is sharing the assists per game lead with Arnas Velicka of Lithuania, both are at 8.7 dimes per contest, and with Carlos Alocen (7.0), Dimitris Moraitis (6.7) and Ludovic Beyhurst (5.3) close by, Tel Aviv is just hosting a huge point guard festival right now.
"(Assists) are so important! You need to make the team better, you are the point guard. You need to get everybody involved in the game, and that's what I did. I tried to do my best, and I'm happy I did it, I'm happy we ended up with a win," Madar said.
But winning the second place in the group and just advancing to the elimination phase will not satisfy the high flying guard. And why should it?
When you are averaging 18.7 points, done on 51.2 percent shooting, including 46.2 percent from beyond the arc - on four tries per game, too - with 8.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.3 steals for the defending champions in your own backyard, you have every reason to set the bar all the way to the top and charge for another championship win.
"We will try. We will do our best," Yam offered, already taking a few steps back towards to the stands.
The noise was getting louder again, another round of photos was about to take place. Not easy being the host of a party. But Madar, he just seems like he's completely built for it.