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December 24, 2020 10:08 am

‘A Dream Come True’: Israel’s Avdija Starts for Wizards, Scores 7 Points in NBA Debut

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avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons passes the ball past Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook and forward Deni Avdija, during a game at Wells Fargo Center, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dec. 23, 2020. Photo: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports.

Israeli rookie Deni Avdija gave a solid performance in his NBA debut on Wednesday, notching seven points and four rebounds, as his Washington Wizards fell in their regular-season opener to the Philadelphia 76ers 113-107.

The 19-year-old small forward — who was drafted ninth overall by Washington last month — was in the starting five for the Wizards and scored his first basket, a three-pointer, just under five minutes into the first quarter of the contest at Wells Fargo Center.

In a two-minute window in the third quarter, the ex-Maccabi Tel Aviv hoopster hit another three-pointer, dished out an assist to All-Star guard Bradley Beal — who finished with a dunk — and also recorded a steal.

“First NBA game, it’s always great, regardless of the loss,” Avdija told reporters afterward. “I’m a little bit frustrated,  you know, we lost, but for me to go out there and play with my team and compete, it’s a dream come true.”

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks had high praise for Avdija, saying, “I thought he was fantastic…He cares, he’s passionate, he wants to do well. I thought he played well.”

“He makes winning basketball plays and that’s all I care about,” Brooks added.

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