Netanyahu Welcomes Maccabi Tel Aviv Back to Israel
The meeting was held at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv.
The Prime Minister told team coach David Blatt, "We have something in common. This is your first Euroleague championship as coach and it is my first Euroleague championship as Prime Minister."
"I showed you the red line at the UN and you showed Europe a yellow line,” Netanyahu said, referring to Maccabi’s yellow jerseys.
“You have brought great honor to the country. You have done something extraordinary. This is an example of fighting spirit, of victory. It is said 'Tough in training, easy in battle' and in the end you did it – due to your leadership David and these marvelous players. I watched and was excited and I think all Israelis were as well. You brought great honor to Israel. I tell you that it was uplifting for all Israelis. You set an example. Thank you," he told Blatt.
Blatt said, "Mr. Prime Minister, I would like to thank you for honoring us here. Part of our mission at Maccabi is to represent the nation, to bring honor and joy to everyone without exception, to try to set an example and to lead in the best way possible just as you are doing for all of us. We thank you and I am happy that you are here with us."
Maccabi Tel Aviv Chairman Shimon Mizrahi presented Prime Minister Netanyahu with an authentic basketball Sunday’s game and said, "I would like to say a few words. I think that in what you said there are also things relevant to policy, i.e. the power of patience and tolerance, persistence, dedication and team spirit, which is the fighting spirit in units that you are familiar with and, to our sorrow, your late brother as well. Like you said, we don't have here stars like we once had. We have David and Guy's team, and the assistant coaches and the trainers and also Alon Stein, who forged a small fighting unit. They express the spirit of the team.”
“I recall what the late President Chaim Herzog said, that Maccabi is the State of Israel's best ambassador. We try to do this and will continue to do so and you will continue to lead us for many years to come," said Mizrahi.
Earlier Monday, Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong, who invited Maccabi Tel Aviv to visit China.
At the start of their meeting, the Prime Minister told her, "Madam Liu, it's a pleasure to see you here with your delegation. You should know that you've come to something of a national holiday because yesterday we proudly saw the victory of Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team for the European championship, so this is a time of great celebration."