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.”
“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.”
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.”