Islanders continue their hoops journey at Maccabiah Games

Duo’s Team USA masters squad notches bronze medal.

Charlie Barokas and Al Moscatel used to hone their skills and electrify crowds as part of some superlative Mercer Island High School (MIHS) basketball teams, and last month the duo kept the Islander spirit alive at the 2022 Maccabiah Games in Israel.

Now in their 40s and 50s, the players can still get their game on and were part of the Team USA men’s basketball masters 45-plus squad that notched a bronze medal in the beach town of Netanya.

Barokas, 49, led the way with 21 points — including sinking six 3-pointers — in a 63-60 victory over Brazil to bolster the US into the third-place spot in the tournament. Moscatel, 58, had to sit out that final game after sustaining hamstring and ankle injuries, but he provided heaps of encouragement and positivity from the bench.

Following the opening ceremonies in Jerusalem that featured President Biden in attendance, the locals began their six-game basketball journey. Glen Coblens of Oregon coached the US squad, which competed against international teams that included players from past Olympic games dotting their lineups.

“It felt great to be competing at that level and giving me a goal, which is very important for me to keep working out,” said Moscatel, a 1982 MIHS graduate who played in four of the six games in Israel.

Moscatel said that he brings passion to the court and has trained rigorously to make the US squad for seven Maccabiah Games. Having his pal Barokas on board this time out was a bonus as they worked out together and were committed to playing for their country’s team.

The feeling is mutual for Barokas, who said that the hard-working Moscatel — a former University of Washington player — invited him to try out and provided inspiration as they formed a brotherhood throughout their experience.

Like Moscatel, Barokas played for legendary Islander coach Ed Pepple and was part of the class of 1991. He returned home sporting lots of bruises the he received while playing in the rough Maccabiah Games.

The players first participated in several mini-camps in New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas to prepare them for what awaited in Israel. Moving forward, Team USA has some unfinished business to attend to, said Barokas, who would like another crack at the Argentina squad that beat them last month.

“Man, as soon as I got home, I’m like, ‘I’m ready,’” the 6-foot-5 former UC-Davis player said about competing at the Maccabiah Pan American Games a year from now.

Fitness and strength will be key ingredients to the team’s future success, he said.

“It’s got me motivated, because I really want to sort of come back and conquer that and prove that I can still do that,” Barokas said.