Hapoel’s dream season continuesBy Mason White 2:19 PM February 12, 2014
|Hapoel player illustration|
By: Ari Schwartz
(Scroll down for video) You’re probably aware of most of Jerusalem’s rich history. You most likely are familiar with many of Jerusalem’s holy sites.
What you might not know, is that the Jerusalem basketball team, Hapoel Jerusalem is currently in the middle of a historic season and is establishing itself as one of the top basketball teams in Europe.
In a league with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel is used to being in second place. Maccabi, one of the top teams in Europe, won 50 championships since the Israeli league began 59 years ago, and has a budget larger than the rest of the league’s combined.
When Uri Alon bought Hapoel in the offseason, Hapoel fans weren’t sure what to expect.
Alon made promises to turn Hapoel into one of the top teams in Europe but the fans didn’t think much of it. We’re used to disappointing seasons after having high expectations. Alon, a self-made millionaire who sold a company he started to Google, grew up in Jerusalem rooting for Hapoel.
When Hapoel signed ex Maccabi point guard, Yotam Halperin, arguably the best Israeli point guard, the fans realized just how serious Alon was. As the season started Hapoel was playing very well. They even beat Maccabi (if you didn’t see this yet, stop what you’re doing and watch the video below) but there was still something missing.
Then Hapoel signed Israeli forward, Lior Eliyahu and went on a 12 game winning streak, which they’ll try to extend on Sunday.
It’s not just the wins that Hapoel fans are enjoying, but the exciting style of play and great chemistry on the court.
Jewish American coach Brad Greenberg, (who was an assistant coach for several NBA teams and general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers) seems to have a style of play that both the players and the fans enjoy. Even the oldest Hapoel fans can’t remember the last time Hapoel was this much fun to watch.
Just when Hapoel fans thought things couldn’t get any better, Hapoel signed ex Indiana Hoosier Bracey Right, and it appears that the puzzle is finally complete. The team plays with a passion that Hapoel fans haven’t seen in years. The whole city seems to be following the games these days, and it’s almost impossible to find available tickets to the home games.
Hapoel is currently in first place in the league, and with a win tonight against Slovenian champion Olimpija Ljubljana, Hapoel will guarantee itself a spot in the top 16 of the Eurocup. (The Eurocup is the second best European basketball league after the prestigious Euroleague).
With the new arena almost complete, Hapoel hopes to soon join the Euroleague and compete with the top teams in Europe. The new arena, being built next to Teddi soccer stadium, will seat 11,000 fans and will be one of the most impressive basketball stadiums in Europe.
If you call yourself a sports fan, but haven’t been to a Hapoel game in Malcha yet, I recommend you throw on a red shirt and go while you still have a chance. Whether they go all the way or not, this magical season is one Hapoel fans won’t forget anytime soon.