TEL AVIV -- The United States swimmers engaged the suprising Israeli squad in a tense duel Thursday but in the end, the host swimmers held their ground, finishing the third day of the 11th Maccabiah Games with a 3-to-2 edge over the Americans in golds won.
Men's coach Don Gambril felt the U.S. swimmers did 'better' after the previous day's disappointing performance, but the day still belonged to the Israelis.
Ron Zhiss (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Eric Kaufman (Orinda, Calif.) came out strong for the Americans, winning golds in the men's 200m breastroke and 200m backstroke, respectively, with times of 2:25.44 and 2:07.75, the latter a new Maccabiah record.
The Israelis responded, however, with wins in the women's 100m butterfly and men's 400m freestyle by Hadar Rubinstein and Amir Ganiel, taking their golds in times of 1:05.67 and 4:04.35.
In the day's final event at the pool, the Israelis took the womens 4 x 100m freestyle relay, out-touching the favored U.S. team 4:08.65 to 4:09.07 on their way to a gold in Maccabiah and Israeli record time.
'The Israelis are really psyched for these games,its their home ground,' explained Julie Bassichis (Plantation, Fla.) after having to settle for a silver medal in the very close women's 100m butterfly.
Eric Kaufman, the men's 200m breastroke winner, reasoned the dramatic Israeli improvement was a result of 'their recent training in the U.S.,' after which they came back 'really socking.'
In other events, the U.S. basketball team rolled to another easy victory in the third round of the competition, beating a beleaguered Venezuelan team 139-26. High-point scorers for the U.S. were Alan Dolensky of Garden Grove, Calif., with 20, Allan Silverman of Behel, Conn., with 18 and Willie Sims of Long Island City, N.Y., with 18.
In a closer contest, the strong Brazil team beat long-time rival Argentina in a scrappy battle, 90-76, both sides receiving sometimes boisterous support from their respective rooting sections.
In gymnastics, where the U.S. squad won five medals, including three golds, in Wednesday's team event, the Americans hoped to repeat in Thursday night's individual event competition.