Lands, Ben : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Lands, Ben

Benjamin Lands


Country Represented:

Years Competed:

Olympic Info:
Lands and five other members of the Montreal YMHA (Young Men's Hebrew Association) composed half of Canada's basketball team at the 1948 London Olympics (the other half was from the University of British Columbia). Upon the team's arrival in London, they stayed in Oxford, but found out there was no gymnasium in which to practice. On top of that, according to Lands, they were brought a European ball, which was more like a football than a North American basketball. With only a few weeks to train, Lands explained, the Canadian team was probably "the most ill-prepared team" at the Olympics.

Despite the circumstances, Canada played fairly well in the Olympics. They began the tournament with two victories, over Italy (53-37) and Great Britain (44-24). They then lost two straight to Hungary (in a close game by a score of 37-36) and Brazil (57-35) before closing the preliminary round by defeating Uruguay 52-50. With a record of 3-2, Canada was tied for second place in their preliminary group with Uruguay and Hungary, but Uruguay advanced to the final group based on their victories over both Canada and Hungary (Brazil went undefeated in the preliminary stage and won the group -- only the top two teams advanced to the final group).

Despite their disappointment at not advancing to the final group, the Canadian team closed out the Olympic Games on a high note. In the 'consolation' grouping to determine the final standings, Canada routed Iran 81-25 and then defeated Belgium (45-40) and Peru (49-43) to finish in ninth place. Their final record was 8-2.

While in London, the 'Y' players attended a luncheon at the Maccabi House that honored all the Jewish athletes at the Olympic Games. The other members of the Canadian basketball team were Sol Tolchinsky, Mendy Morein, Sydney Strulovich, Doodie Bloomfield, and Murray Waxman. The head coach at the Y, Moe Abramowitz, was an assistant coach on the Olympic team.

Career Highlights:
The son of Jewish immigrants, Lands became a member of the YMHA at the age of 8 and began playing basketball at 16. At the 'Y,' he and a group of Jewish ballplayers became one of the best teams in all of Canada, winning the Eastern Canada championship in 1948. In the Canadian finals, they lost a best of five series to the Vancouver Clover Leafs, but avenged their loss by beating the Clover Leafs later in the year at the Olympic Trials. They captured one half of the bracket while the University of British Columbia won the other half and the Canadian Olympic team was composed of players from both squads.

Lands and his 'Y' teammates continued their success into the 1950s, winning the Canadian championship in 1950, while competing at the Maccabiah Games that same year. Lands also was player/coach at the 1953 Maccabiah Games and then coached the Canadian team in 1957. At the 1997 Maccabiah Games, he was the honorary captain of the Canadian squad. Lands has remained active in with the Montreal YMHA, serving as chairman of the Hall of Fame and is also a member of the Board of Trustees and Board of Management.

Birth and Death Dates:

Montreal, Canada

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(thank you to Sol Tolchinsky and Ben Lands for providing information on themselves and the Montreal YMHA 'Blues' team to the web site)