From Israel to the NBA and Mavericks for Mekel

Posted Sunday, Jul. 21, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

As far back as Gal Mekel can remember, he was always a basketball junkie.

“Basketball was my first love,” said Mekel, who was born and raised in Israel. “I started [playing] when I was 5 on the court right next to my house, and I started with a serious team when I was 6 of 7.

“When you grow up you have posters of Michael Jordan and everybody on your wall. It’s a dream of everybody.”

And it’s a dream for Mekel, a 25-year-old free-agent point guard who signed a three-year, $2.3 million contract with the Dallas Mavericks earlier this month.

When the regular season starts, Mekel will join Houston’s Omri Casspi as the only players from Israel to play in the NBA.

In his six games for the Mavs in the Las Vegas Summer League last week, Mekel showed that he’s a proficient ball-handler who can run an offense and knows how to find an open player.

But with rookie Shane Larkin ( broken ankle) not available to split time at point guard, and with the Mavs ending summer-league play with four games in four days, the added burden of playing with less rest took its toll on Mekel.

Still, the early impressions from Mavs summer league coach Monte Mathis about Mekel were positive ones.

“I think it’s a jump from any league coming into the NBA,” Mathis said. “Any league in Europe, any league in the states — whether it’s college, small college — it’s a jump.”

The oldest of seven kids, Mekel as a child in Israel woke up many times in the middle of the night to watch NBA games live on television.

Mekel doesn’t have a role model, but he likes point guards.

“I love the point guards that’s involving everyone and getting all of the other guys better and controlling the tempo,” Mekel said. “You have a lot of them in the NBA — Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Chris Paul — a long list. That’s the style of game that I play.”

In the Mavs’ six summer-league games, Mekel averaged 9.7 points and five assists in 27.8 minutes per game. He shot 45.1 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from 3-point range.

“There’s skills on the court, there’s basketball skills and there’s the head, the skills above the neck,” Mavs owner Mark Cuban said. “Gal’s got good basketball skills, but he’s got to improve his shot.”

“But in terms of understanding the game with the basketball, he sees it before it happens. That’s rare to find — you don’t see that a lot — so I’m excited to see how well he’ll do.’’

Mekel also knows a lot of folks in his native land are pulling for him to do well.

“A lot of players love the game in Israel,” Mekel said. “A lot of guys, young guys, are playing.

“We’re trying. Israel is a basketball nation and I hope we’ll see more players [in the NBA] in the future.’’

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @dwainprice

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse, images, internet links or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?

Friday, August 22Full Scoreboard
Baltimore1Final | Box
Chicago Cubs «4
Houston «5Final | Box
Chicago WSox3Final | Box
NY Yankees «4
St. Louis4Final | Box
Philadelphia «5
San Francisco «10Final | Box
Tampa Bay «8Final | Box
Seattle «5Final | Box
Atlanta «3Final(12) | Box
Kansas City «6Final | Box
Pittsburgh «8Final | Box
Detroit6Final | Box
Minnesota «20
Miami «13Final | Box
San Diego1Final | Box
Arizona «5
LA Angels3Final | Box
Oakland «5
NY Mets2Final | Box
Los Angeles «6
Full Scoreboard
Friday, August 22Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard
Week 4Full Scoreboard
Pittsburgh21Final | Box
Philadelphia «31
Jacksonville12Final | Box
Detroit «13
Carolina7Final | Box
New England «30
NY Giants «35Final | Box
NY Jets24
Oakland21Final | Box
Green Bay «31
Chicago6Final | Box
Seattle «34
Tampa Bay 4:30 PM ET
Buffalo TV: NFL Network, WFLA
Tennessee 7:00 PM ET
Atlanta TV: WKRN, CW69
Dallas 7:00 PM ET
Miami TV: KTVT, CBS11, CBS4
Washington 7:30 PM ET
Baltimore TV: NBC4, CSN-DC, WBAL
St. Louis 8:00 PM ET
Cleveland TV: WKYC
New Orleans 8:00 PM ET
Indianapolis TV: CBS
Minnesota 8:00 PM ET
Kansas City TV: KARE 11, KCTV
Houston 9:00 PM ET
San Diego 4:00 PM ET
San Francisco TV: FOX
Cincinnati 8:00 PM ET
Arizona TV: NBC
Full Scoreboard
Friday, August 22Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard