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Niv Konfino: It’s Now or “Niver”

Niv Konfino 1

Written By Charlie Bendheim

In the upcoming Pan American Maccabi Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Niv Konfino will represent the US in the Men’s Open division of 3v3 basketball. 

The New York-born Konfino began playing 3v3 professionally in 2022. “The game is suited for a guy like me who is undersized and relies on quickness,” said the 5-foot-9 guard, explaining that 3v3 is played on a halfcourt with a smaller women’s-sized ball that is as heavy as the men’s ball and has grooves in it to create longer rebounds. Play rarely stops, too, so faster and fitter players often have an advantage.

Konfino’s love for basketball can be traced back to first grade, when his parent-teacher conferences were held on the same night that his beloved New York Knicks were set to face Kobe, Shaq, and the Lakers in midtown Manhattan. He reluctantly climbed into a yellow taxi with his mother, Frida, hoping the conferences would end quickly so he could at least catch the second half of the game. But the taxi didn’t stop at his school. It parked at Madison Square Garden instead, where Konfino sat courtside and his dream of playing professional hoops was born.

“It was my mom who pushed me to play,” Konfino said. “She loved basketball, and that’s where I found my love for the game.” 

As a player, he bounced from Maccabi U16 (Israel’s equivalent of the AAU) to Impact Academy, a Las Vegas Prep school where he faced NBA superstars Jaylen Brown, Kelly Oubre, and Dylan Brooks. From there, he played for the  Division-3 Brooklyn College Bulldogs from 2014-2018 followed by a 2018 pro stint in England where he helped Bournemouth get promoted from League One to the Premier League. He then moved to Israel to play pro for four teams in the Israel Basketball League: Inter Aliyah, Maccabi Baka, Maccabi Elitzur Petach Tikva, and Elitzur Ramla.  At the same time, he works a day job as a senior analyst at Pagaya, a fintech company based in Tel Aviv. 

The combination is grueling, Konfino explained, but “I’ve learned from basketball to have that drive and never give up.” 

 Next, Konfino will make his debut at the Pan American Maccabi Games in Argentina. He expects it to be one of his most meaningful and significant accomplishments. Despite earning a US berth in both the 2015 Pan American Maccabi Games in Chile and the 2017 Maccabiah, Konfino was never able to join those USA delegations because he said he wasn’t allowed to leave his college team. This time, Konfino, 28,  made sure he could go. 

When he was negotiating with professional teams this summer, he said, “I put it into my contract that they must let me go to the Maccabi Games or I would not sign.” So finally, in Buenos Aires, Konfino will get to play for his faith and country. But his ambition does not stop there. 

“My final goal is to get to the big games in 2025,” he said, referring to the Maccabiah in Israel.

Until then, this winter, 22 years since that first grader got into the back of that New York City taxi, the opportunity to play 3v3 in a Maccabi USA uniform will mean everything. “It’s bigger than basketball,” Konfino said. “My faith is always… really big for me. To combine that with representing my country and playing the game that I love? It’s profound.” 


Charlie Bendheim is a New Jersey native, currently a senior at Yeshiva University. Connect with him on LinkedIn @Charles(Charlie)Bendheim and follow him at

Join us at the European Maccabi Youth Games in London (July 28-August 6, 2024)
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