By Sophie Bennett, Staff Writer
In the year 1977 the Israeli basketball team defied all odds and defeated many European teams to win the European Championship. Beginning with a brief overview of basketball and Israel’s history, “On The Map” dives into the roots of the Maccabi Tel Aviv team. In 1973 Israel was longing for an uplifting event due to the tragedies of the Yom Kippur war. After recruiting not only Israelis, but also Americans, the team began to form into a stronger team.
The film focuses on Tal Brody who left the NBA for Israel and inspired the team’s rise. Brody attracted many strong basketball players, particularly players from America. With Israel living in rough times, a weak economy and still recovering from the war, the basketball team gave Israel the hope they so desperately needed.
“On The Map” emphasizes the synchronization of the team, how well they worked with each other, and how they pushed each other. The film uses interviews of not only the players, but also key people who were involved with the team or the nation. These interviews as well as the old footage of the players hard work on the court were able to really show the behind-the-scenes of the team. There interactions and the drive they all felt to win the championship. Each player had something to offer and they all had a drive to win. Some of the players were desperate for the win because of how their country needed to be lifted up and others because of their passion for basketball. However they all were invested in not only the Tel Aviv team by the end, but also to see Israel as a nation succeed.
The ragtag team had all the odds against them and after suffering a devastating loss at the start of the season; Tel Aviv was able to surprise the world and turn their season around. While Tel Aviv was working to build their team, tensions grew with the Soviet Union and no one was sure of whether or not the different countries would compete. This tension all developed to an incredible game, Maccabi Tel Aviv against Russia, which “On The Map” displays beautifully. The game with ends with Tal Brody’s famous line “we are on the map!” The line didn’t just symbolize their rise in basketball, but also in the world.
Throughout the political unrest of Europe during this time, the Tel Aviv team’s win was exactly what the country needed. It uplifted them and gave them hope for the future of their country. With an incredible coach Ralph Klein who kept inspiring the team as well as the strength of the players and the entire country behind them, Tel Aviv carried the country as a beacon of hope. By far the best scene of the movie was when “On The Map” shows the emotional reaction of Israel as their team wins. Even amidst their win, as Israel’s prime minister was resigning, the game gave the people something to be happy about and after the win, the country truly was “on the map!”