From ESPN to Safsal
Sagi Nir ,12/31/2004
We've reached the end of the DII's first period, and what can be more suitable than an interview with the league's leading scorer. In order to break the traditional frame of an old fashioned journalistic interview, I asked Lee Roberts, a dedicated surfer in Safsal and Jeron's wife, to take control of this interview for you.
So Lee, to your command.

Hello, My name is Leorah Roberts. I was born in Jerusalem in 1975. My father was born and raised in the states and decided to come to Israel to serve in the army where he met my mother and they got married and had 2 children. In 1980, when I was 5 years old, we moved to California. Since I was little I used to come to Israel to visit my grandmother who still to this day lives in Tel Aviv. Last time I came to Israel was in 1998. Once, at an ESPN post party in Beverly Hills, a man walked up to me and asked me where I was from. That was Jeron Roberts. When I told him: "originally, Israel", he said something to me in Hebrew, and I said: "are you Jewish?". He laughed and said he has been playing basketball in Israel. I was shocked. As you can see, we are now married and he brought me back to Israel for the first time in a long time last year.

“Pack your bags, we are off to Israel". Since this is Jerons fourth year here, his nerves weren’t acting up. “It’s like going back to my second home”. This year’s team, Ashdod, the city of the sea. When I asked Jeron how his team looks this year he said: “ It’s definitely been a learning experience. Our team is young and inexperienced and it sometimes shows in close games in our decisions, but we need to use this as a tool to work harder".
Tell me about your childhood, your beginning as a basketball player
"I started playing basketball at the age of 7. I was also playing American football and soccer. At that time I was the best at soccer because I could kick the ball fast and run past all the little kids and score goals. I eventually gave up soccer when I was 11 because I lost interest and decided to stick with basketball and American football. From my childhood up until high school my father was my coach. He also was a basketball player and was one of the best players in California when he played. I used to go with him to his Pro-Am games and I would always run on the court trying to play basketball. My friends and I would go to the park and play ball for hours. My freshman year of high school I decided to play basketball and football. In the middle of the football season, I decided to quit the team because my heart was calling basketball and I remember my best friends father telling me if you really want to be good in basketball, you have to put everything into it. From that point on I dedicated my heart totally to basketball and in my senior year I was the #1 scorer in Southern California and # 3 in the entire state. From that point I chose to go to the University of Wyoming on a basketball scholarship to further my career. In college my best achievements were setting the school record for most made free throws in a row at 42 and I hold the #4 spot for the NCAA record for the most free throws made in one game with no misses at 20/20. I am also the #5 all time leading scorer in the University of Wyoming school history. I come from a basketball family starting with my father and two brothers, Davon and D’Andre. D’Andre my second youngest brother played at Langston University in Oklahoma, Division 2 and my youngest brother, Davon is currently a freshman playing for Cal State Sacramento University, Division 1. They both received basketball scholarships. I was the first one in the family to play professional basketball and probably won’t be the last."

How would you compare this team to your previous teams here in Israel?
“Lev Hasharon was an experienced team, with two foreigners and it was a fun season since we won the championship. My second year in Lev Hasharon was my worst year because I got injured and couldn’t finish the season, but that didn’t stop me. With lots of prayer and rehab I got myself back to the shape I am in now.”
“Ramle was a big challenge for me because when I got there they had not won any preseason games and everyone said the team would be going down to the 3rd division. We put together a good season finishing in Second and making the playoffs.”

Being a professional basketball player and having the experience of playing in different leagues, what do you think about Israeli Basketball?
“Israeli basketball is good. It could be better if there were more sponsors and people who would donate money to the teams. The coaches I have dealt with here have all been good coaches, i.e. Robby Belinko, Ziv Erez, and Moshe Mazan. I have the closest relationship with Robby Belinko from Lev Hasharon because we have been thorough lots of ups and downs together from winning a championship to him being by my hospital bed when I was injured and seeing the rehabilitation process.”

What are your feelings about living here?
“Being in Israel is not as bad as one would think. It has its good and bad parts but what country doesn’t. I’m definitely not scared of dying by a bus bomb or being blown up because I feel when it’s your time to go you can’t do anything about it. It doesn’t matter if its in Israel or Los Angeles, when God calls you home, its time to go. A big plus here is that everybody speaks English. It makes it a lot easier being here.”
But if you ask me the same question, I would give you a completely different answer. My answer to that would be, if you see a bus, put your pedal to the metal, meaning, press your foot a little harder on the gas and go!!! Even though I was born here, I don’t have the same mentality. I am still adjusting to the aggressive behavior out here. But I do have to say; it feels like one big family out here.
“In Israel all the Americans are close together unlike other countries where everything is so spread out, you have to fly to get to some cities to be with your friends. This is nice during the holiday seasons because you have other people to celebrate with especially when you don’t have family around. So it makes it more like home.”

What does being the leagues top scorer mean to you?
“Being the top scorer of this league is a product of my focus and hard work to be the best that I can be and ultimately take my game to the highest level. This is definitely not the last stop for me and I can’t wait to show my talents at the highest level. Until then I will continue to give my blood, sweat and tears to Maccabi Ashdod and try to make them the best basketball team we can be.”
Leorah Roberts

That was the Roberts' story. No doubt about it, someone has demonstrated an enormous gift in writing. don't you Lee…

And a last message to our english reading fans. Unfortunately, the mission of translating all of the DII articles to English requires plenty of time that us, as guys who run this web site voluntarily, do not have. For now, we offer you all of the league's results, tables and stats that exist on the Hebrew version. Hopefully, one day we would have the ability to translate more. Stay with us,
Sagi, "Safsal".

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