During the last few weeks, teams throughout Israel have been working very hard to shape up their line-ups for the upcoming season. There will be two new teams in this year’s Super League, Hapoel Eilat and Hapoel Tel Aviv. I feel bad for all the teams that will have to travel down to Eilat to compete, but hey, at least when they are not playing they can enjoy the resorts and the beach. Hapoel Tel Aviv has one of the strongest fan bases in Israel and should be able to compete next year.
One thing I love about Israeli basketball is that players are always on the move. After a very successful season at Maccabi Ashdod,Meir Tapiro is returning to Hapoel Jerusalem. Jerusalem will welcome Tapiro with open arms, as they have released most of their guards from last year’s squad. Tapiro has spent a season in Jerusalem and is adored by the Malcha Brigade( the crazy fans who drum and jump up and down throughout the entire game). Tapiro was named Domestic Player of the year in 2007 and 2008. He was a member of the Israel National Team between 1999-2009, appearing in multiple Eurobasket tournaments. This past season Tapiro averaged 9.6 points per game, 7.2 assists per game and 4.9 rebounds per game.
It has been a very busy off-season for Maccabi Tel Aviv as they have had to replace virtually half their squad. Despite losing a lot of talent and adding a lot of new faces, Maccabi seems ready to be the most talented team in Israel yet again. In the past few days it has been reported that Israeli veteran point guard Moran Roth will be leaving Hapoel Holon and joining Maccabi Tel Aviv. Last year Roth appeared in the Super League All-Star Game. Roth is considered one of the toughest point guards in Israel. Last year he posted averages of 13.5 points per game,3.1 rebounds per game and 5.9 assists per game. Roth’s signing indicates that Maccabi are getting prepared for a a season without last year’s Euroleague Star Yogev Ohayon. Ohayon and Maccabi officials are currently battling in court over contract issues.
Israeli Super League newcomer Hapoel Eilat has announced the signing of American guard Scotty Hopson. Scotty Hopson comes to Israel from Greek team Vap Kolossos Rhodes. Hopson was a superstar at the University of Tennessee, averaging 17 points per game as a senior, while earning All-Conference First Team SEC honors. Hopson teamed up with Jewish Head Coach Bruce Pearl to lead the Volunteers to some of their most successful basketball in school history.