Euroleague? Definitely, yes – Hapoel Tel Aviv aims for the top as season opens with EuroCup test vs Olimpija

Oct 2, 2023 | Holyland Hoops

Hapoel Tel Aviv opened up the 2023/24 campaign with a season opening press conference that took place at the Drive In Arena. Chairman Rami Cohen along with head coach Danny Franco and captain Bar Timor spoke about the upcoming year as well as beginning the EuorCup season on Tuesday.

“We’re happy to see everyone at the start of the season, even though it seems that the season is already in full swing after so many events,” Chairman Rami Cohen said with a smile, “On the management side, we went through quite a change over the summer. I believe and hope that we will be able to maintain the good things that we have had with the fans as part of the non profit organization and at the same time take another step forward from a competitive point of view.”

Rami Cohen – Photo Credit:[/caption“On the professional side, I think we had a good summer, we managed to build what we wanted to and we all hope that with two or three more weeks of preparation, we will see the Hapoel we believe that we should be. As Itay Berger said, there is no sport without fans. Again, fans are not criminals, they are customers. Until we know how to treat them as customers, I don’t think we will be able to solve the problems that exist – and they are not only part of Hapoel Tel Aviv and not only in basketball. You need to know how to deal with these issues but the start is to treat people and give them a positive experience at the Arena. If you treat a human being like an animal, don’t be surprised when he tries to bite. I hope we’re on our way to a great season.”

Head coach Danny Franco also chimed in, “We are on the eve of the season opener, we’ve had a very long summer and it seems as if the season is coming very quickly, but there is excitement to begin with our first game at home. This won’t just be any experience for the players who are new to teh club. It’s a new year, everything starts from scratch and you have to know how to play here to be effective and come out victorious, certainly at such initial stages of the season. Our job is to help each other to do that.”
Danny Franco – Photo Credit:

“We had almost no games with the entire squad, but that’s irrelevant because we start on Tuesday. It’s okay at this time of the year, because within a season there are always ups and downs. The goal is to try to reach every ‘peak’ of the season in the best possible condition to reach the highest levels. Our goals have not changed: we had fun last year while it could have been a little more fun on the last day. But we’re starting the journey from the beginning, we know it won’t be easy and I wish us all the best of luck.”

Captain Bar Timor looked ahead to getting the season underway, “We are very excited to start the season and see the fans for the first time in a full arena. We are really looking forward to this, we had a somewhat challenging summer in terms of preparation, whether it is because of players who were in the World Cup or injured. We dealt with these things well every day and we are here ready for the start of the season, with the goal of making a leap in comparison to the previous season.”

Franco spoke about the change of format in the Eurocup and the goals for the upcoming season, “I’m not looking that far ahead, we’d like to go as far as possible. At the end of the day in order to make it easier on ourselves we have to take it week by week. We’ve done plenty over the summer in order to prepare for the opener. That’s the only thing we can control, looking at February, March and April is a bit far down the road. The plan was and remains to try to win every game we play.”

Bar Timor – Photo Credit:

Timor on raising the bar of the club’s expectations, “That doesn’t matter much to us, because before looking at us, we look at ourselves and want to achieve as much as possible. We don’t look at the budget and adjust the expectations of ourselves. Even when there were four foreigners here and a lower budget, we wanted to go all the way. No one felt we were a small team last year and we weren’t far from winning the championship. It doesn’t change anything significant in our perception, because as athletes we want to win all the available titles and do everything possible. We expect ourselves to go all the way in every competition.”

Finally, Rami Cohen was asked about possibly joining the Euroleague down the road, “Definitely yes, Ofer (Yanai) has already talked about that. The WhatsApp group we started right away was called ‘Top Euroleague’. We all want to be there, we have to go through a process, but we will do everything in our power to make it as quick as possible. Last year we surprised ourselves with how well prepared we were for the Eurocup and we tried to learn from Jerusalem and Holon about playing in Europe and I think we did it honorably. I believe we can and that’s what we will strive for.”

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