By Madisen Carter
Two members of the Unlimited Potential Basketball family, Josh Friedkin and Mikayla Cowling, recently made their way back overseas to Israel to play professional basketball. We are so proud of all their accomplishments so far in their career, and we are excited to see how they will perform in their upcoming seasons.
Josh Friedkin will be in Israel for his second season in a row and arrived back in late August. Last season, Friedkin played for Maccabi Ashdod and is now playing for Hapoel Beer Sheva B.C. Friedkin signed a two-year contract with the team after working out with the team for three days. With Hapoel Beer Sheva B.C having a Division I and Division IV team, Friedkin is practicing with both teams and playing in the Division IV team’s games. Next season, the plan is for Friedkin to play in games with the Division I team.
For practices, Friedkin is with the Division I team most of the time and practices with the Division IV team at least twice a week. He said he has loved working with his new teammates so far because he has a connection in some way with most of the guys on the team, whether that be because he has played against them before or has heard of them before. It has been fun for Friedkin getting to know his teammates and learning more about their basketball stories.
“It's been great. We had the trip to Eilot which, you know, anytime you go away with a team and you're staying in a hotel, you kind of just naturally bond [since] everybody's in the same spot. Every 24 hours you're all together, so that's been a lot of fun,” Friedkin said. “I'm in a cool place because as an Israeli-American, I kind of fit with [everyone.] With the Israelis, I don't speak that much Hebrew but I speak enough to kind of understand their conversations and hear what they're saying, and then obviously I'm American so I can relate to those guys… the camaraderie is super strong.”
Friedkin is ready for the season to start and looks forward to contributing as much as he can to the team’s success and get his job done on the court. The Division IV team has hopes of being a top team in the division so it can move up to Division III next season.
“I want to contribute [and] really try to absorb as much as I can. In practices, in games, in film sessions, whatever the case may be, just really trying to soak it all in and put myself in the best position to be ready for next year,” Friedkin said.
Friedkin said it has been going well with the team as they finished the preseason 5-2 overall. The official start of the season is set on October 23rd when the team travels to Rome.
Mikayla Cowling will be taking on her first season in Israel. Last season, she played for Edremit Belediyesi Gürespor in Edremit, Turkey and had an outstanding season with the team. Cowling was voted Eurobasket.com All-Turkish TKBL Import Player of the Year and is ready to showcase her talents with her new team, Hapoel Petah Tikva. Cowling said that the Israel league has a lot of competition and that it is a good place for her to show that she can compete in that high level of talent.
Cowling arrived in Petah Tikvah, Israel on the first of October and has only had three practices so far with her new team. Although she has not been working with her team long, the other players on the team and the coaching staff have been nice and welcoming. She said since she is in a big city, there are many different cultures, and it has been a blessing that the members on her team and coaches have made it a priority to learn English and they speak it really well.
“It's nice to see [that] even if someone doesn't know someone from last season, they're still welcoming and it’s like ‘Now we're here, we're now on the same page, so let's get to work.’ I love that kind of just ‘work is work’ mentality,” Cowling said.
Since Cowling had a successful first season overseas in Turkey, her personal goal this year is to maintain the player that she was when she finished last season. She also wants her new team to be as successful as possible this season.
“I want to kind of keep riding that wave of people seeing my name and seeing how much I've developed as a basketball player. I want my team to get a championship or be in the playoffs or be a really powerful team,” Cowling said. “I just want to keep that healthy, happy mentality during these five months being out here.”
Cowling and Hapoel Petah Tikva’s season will officially start on October 20th when they play Maccabi Bnot Ashdod.