TEL AVIV, Israel - Even casual Israeli basketball fans begin their day with an update on the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the newfound obsession with the NBA franchise has little to do with superstar LeBron James. Rookie head coach David Blatt is one of their own, making his name professionally in Israel and raising a family there.Nearly all of Clevelands games are broadcast live on Israeli sports channels, and the national morning radio broadcast almost always delivers the score of the previous nights games. Radio shows feature a daily update segment, and local newspapers have begun to resemble Ohio dailies in their blanket coverage of the drama surrounding Blatts talented yet underachieving team.Its beyond surreal. It feels almost alien-like, said Gil Barak, who broadcasts Clevelands games for the Sport 5 TV channel. This is a guy were used to seeing around here as his everyday self. Now hes got LeBron and directing the most high-profile team in the world.And as Cleveland fans worry that Blatt isnt using his roster properly, Israelis are proudly sticking behind him. Boston-born Blatt, 55, remains one of the countrys most beloved figures, thanks to his winning history as a coach in his adopted homeland and national pride in his making it big time.It means a lot from two perspectives: Number one, I can do something for the people in Israel, and number two, I can do something about bringing seven million new fans to the Cavaliers, Blatt said Monday night after a third straight win put the Cavaliers at 22-20. Ive been very fortunate, we had a great deal of success in Israel the last several years, so people are positive about this and about me and Ive got Bron and Kevin and Kyrie and they love the NBA over there so its a natural tie-in, and its great.Israelis went crazy in 2009 when Omri Casspi became the countrys first NBA player, and again when Gal Mekel made fleeting appearances for the Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans. But those reactions paled in comparison to the hoopla surrounding Blatts sudden ascension to become the first coach to jump from the European leagues to the NBA. Learning that he would coach the planets greatest player has only added to the excitement.Barak said the channel has experienced a spike in ratings this season, and that he is often stopped on the streets by strangers who want to pick his brain about Blatt.From our provincial perspective, it is a huge deal and we want to see one of our own succeed, he said.Blatt played his college ball at Princeton under coach Pete Carril. He has called Israel home since 1981, when he first arrived to play for the U.S. at the Maccabiah Games. A solid playing career in the Israeli league followed before an even more successful coaching career began in 1993.Over the next two decades he developed his reputation as a top international coach and offensive wizard whose stock surged dramatically after leading the Russian national team to a bronze medal in the 2012 Olympics. His signature moment in Israel came last year when he led Maccabi Tel Aviv to a series of upset wins en route to a dramatic Euroleague championship title.As rumours floated that Blatt would soon head to the NBA, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even pleaded with him to stay.His roots in Israel remain deep. Hes married to an Israeli woman, Kinneret, and raised his four children here, with the oldest two having completed their military service. He speaks fluent, albeit American-accented, Hebrew and is a popular pitchman for TV ads who has professed a desire to one day serve as an ambassador for the country. An economic newspaper recently reported Blatt just purchased a pair of high-rise Tel Aviv apartments.Overnight, the Cavs became Israels team in the NBA, replacing traditional favourites like the Celtics, Knicks, Bulls and Lakers. Even those who rooted against him have become his backers, with the loyal following taking up a prominent presence online to defend him against critics.Dotan Ben-Yosef, a 25-year-old university student, is among many who cant wait for the morning highlights and gets up at 3 a.m. to watch the games live.Hes living out the dream of every Israeli who wants to make it big in the world, he said. I think everyone here wants him to win.So far, it hasnt worked out that way. With a slew of injuries, questionable team chemistry and a seemingly awkward relationship with James, the Cavs are in the middle of the pack after being favoured to win the Eastern Conference.Blatts every move in America is scrutinized in the local media with commentators saying the pressure is taking its toll. Known for a demanding, vocal style in Israel, Blatt often appears muted on the NBA sidelines and monotone in postgame press conferences.Devin Smith, his former player on Maccabi, said hes confident once Blatt gets through the growing pains he will thrive.Youve got a group of guys who have never played together, said Smith, who played his college ball at the University of Virginia. Its a growing process. People expected because LeBron is there for him to go back and win every game, but that is not the case.Guy Goodes, Blatts former assistant and successor as Maccabi Tel Aviv coach, said if anyone could withstand the enormous expectations it was Blatt.David is going through a tough stretch, but he will adjust, he said. 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The 27-year-old forward has informed the Leafs that he will be unable to play in Monday nights home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.The legend of Jose Abreu continues to grow, but the enormous early achievements for the rookie have yet to translate into an overall level of success for his Chicago White Sox. Abreu his and teammates shoot for back-to-back wins for just the second time since June 11 on Saturday as they battle the Toronto Blue Jays in the third of a four-game set. Trying to slow down Abreu for the Jays is rookie hurler Marcus Stroman, a product of Duke. The right-hander, making his first-ever appearance against Chicago, managed to break a minor two-game slide on Monday as he allowed just a single run on three hits, striking out seven, over eight innings against the New York Yankees at home. Stroman has appeared in four day games this season already, but the results have been somewhat hard to swallow, even though he has a record of 1-1 in such games. He is also carrying a lofty 5.65 ERA in those 14 1/3 innings. Chicago, which is alone in last place in the AL Central, has the second- highest team ERA in the league at 4.40 and is the only club yet to register a shutout on the campaign. Conversely, Toronto is second in the AL with 10 shutouts, although the Jays are 11th in overall ERA with a 4.09 mark. Chicagos first baseman posted two more home runs on Friday as the Sox slipped by Toronto in a 5-4 decision. The victory snapped a brief two-game slide for a Chicago club that is 10 games below .500 (16-26) on the road. Abreu, though, now has four multi-homer games through his first 67 contests, becoming the first player since Atlantas Bob Horner in 1978 to achieve such a feat. Abreu is also tied with Torontos Edwin Encarnacion and Nelson Cruz of Baltimore for the Major League lead in home runs with 25. "Im glad hes on my team," said White Sox starter John Danks, who picked up his seventh win of the campaign. "t;Im glad I dont have to face him.dddddddddddd" Danks made it through six innings, allowing two runs on five hits, two of those being home runs. A host of relievers handed the game to Jake Petricka who picked up his second save of the season by recording just a pair of outs in the ninth. Former Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey was saddled with the loss as he was hammered for four home runs, five runs overall on just five hits. The knuckleballer did strike out nine and walk only one through six innings, but it just wasnt enough. "I felt very good with it, tonight was a very bizarre outing," Dickey said. "I dont know how else to explain it, to give up five hits and four of them being home runs. To walk one guy and strikeout nine and leave the game after six innings giving up five runs, thats a bizarre outing." Encarnacion, who is second in the league in RBI with 65, delivered on his 25th home run, a solo effort, while Colby Rasmus and Dioner Navarro also went deep for a Toronto team which is still holding down first place in the AL East, 1 1/2 games ahead of Baltimore entering play today. After missing almost the entire month of March, Chris Sale is now aiming to come up with his seventh win in eight decisions as he heads to the mound for the White Sox this afternoon. The left-hander pitched on Monday against Baltimore on the road but failed to earn a decision as Chicago was handed a 6-4 loss. Sale made it through just six innings for the second game in a row, permitting a mere two runs as he scattered a season-high 11 hits and struck out three. Now in his fifth season in the majors, Sale has pitched against Toronto four times previously but is still awaiting his first favorable outcome (0-2), although he has been credited with a save in one of those contests. 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