American lawyer-coach steers Palestine to rousing FIBA debut
By Nelson Beltran Updated Wednesday September 23, 2015 - 6:22pm

The Palestine bench celebrates after pulling of a 75-73 upset over Gilas Pilipinas in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship. | FIBA.com

CHANGSHA - In the fourth year of his job developing the national team program of Palestine, American lawyer/basketball coach Jerry Steele broke new ground for the Palestinians, leading them to a triumphant debut in Asian basketball.

Early on, Steele steered Palestine to a second-place finish in an Islamic international basketball tournament in Palembang, Indonesia.

"They work hard and they will continue to get better," said Steele as he lauded his team for their effort against Gilas Pilipinas.

All in all, Steele, 60, has been back and forth to Palestine for eight years now since being tapped to help the Palestinians to get to basketball.

"We used to run an urban youth program in Phoenix to help young people develop character. Seven years ago, some people from Palestine learned what we do. They said they need that in Palestine. So we went there and started the program," Steele told The STAR.

"They don't have a pro league. Their (basketball) federation is not organized. They don't know how to do it. They just saw me teaching young teams, and they asked me if I can handle their national team program," Steele added.

The fact is that Palestine still doesn't have a complete team and isn't yet training on a regular basis.

"We didn't really have two regular weeks (of training for FIBA Asia). We had organizational problem. We didn't have time to practice together. And we started with the basics like handling the ball, how to move as a basketball player. We have to start learning how to play defense with intensity," Steele said.

"It's all very, very basic. But when they catch on you, they can play and they compete," he added.

He insisted it's not him but the character of the Palestinians.

He also said he's not the more famous Jerry Steele that used to coach High Point U but the Jerry Steele that has just done "a little bit of collegiate and high school coaching in Phoenix.

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Saturday, August 10, 2013 @ MOA Arena
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