Hapoel Gilboa Galil made one of the most emotional moves of the summer just a few days ago when they signed Koren Jorno who recently won his battle against cancer. The 21-year old grew up in the Hapoel Emek Izrael youth system and had an exceptional Israel Youth National Team career.
However, over the past few years Jorno needed to concentrate on beating an off the court opponent, Ewing Sarcoma and had to put basketball to the side. Just as Jorno signed with the Galilee squad, a number of players and other personalties in the Israeli basketball world who have been and are associated with the point guard couldn’t wait to share their feelings about this wonderful accomplishment.
Hapoel Jerusalem guard Tamir Blatt played with Jorno on the Under-18 team and was so excited to share his feelings, “Wow, it gives me chills to see him sign with Gilboa. I played with him for the national team and we went up a division together. I can’t wait to see Koren back on the court. I’m very proud and happy for him.”
Niv Balbul who also plays for Jerusalem also had warm words for Jorno, “I played with Koren in the youth national teams and he deserves a lot of honor and appreciation. It’s not easy to come back after such a thing, especially since he didn’t play professional basketball for some time. I really wish him all the best in the world and that he will succeed and conquer every peak he dreams of reaching.”
Another one of Jorno’s former teammates Lior Carreira who now plays with Nes Ziona talked about his deep connection with him, “Koren and I were also opponents as well as teammates when we were with the Under-18 team. In 2016, just before he fell ill, we returned back to Israel from a tournament in Belgium where we had spent a lot of time together and became very close. Then just a month or two later we all found out that he had cancer, it was crazy. I’m so proud and I had no doubt that he would return to the court because I know his character and what kind of fighter he is; he would never give up. When he was in the youth system many said that he wasn’t tall or strong enough and wasn’t this or wasn’t that. But every time he was able to prove everyone time and time again, so I was sure he would overcome this challenge. I’m so happy he signed with Gilboa and we cab no meet on the court once again. I want to wish him the best of luck and of course health.”
Hapoel Eilat center Miron Ruina who joined forces with Jorno with the Under-16 team, saw the guard lead the Blue & White in assists and also moved up a level together with him on the Under-18 squad had this to day, “It was really exciting to hear that Koren is going to play, but I’m not surprised as it was just a matter of time. He’s a winner who would never give up and would do everything to achieve his goals and a source of inspiration. I’m so happy for him and wish him all the success in the world!!!”
Sharon Avrahami coached Jorno when he was with Emek Izrael as well as the Under-16 and Under-18 teams and spoke about what he expects to see from his former player on the court, “First of all I am so, so happy that he is back and it’s so exciting to see after his battle recovering from cancer. He had so many operations and had to recover many times, so I think that this is a very special and happy moment that many others wouldn’t have been able to handle. I hope that he can return to what he was because his character is still there that’s for sure and that he can prove he belongs at this level.”
Under-16 teammate Dor Wachner knows Koren for many years starting in high school, “We know each other since grade 10 and we played against each other since we were in high school. Every game was a battle because he was super talented and is such a great guy, a golden person beyond sports. I never doubted that he would defeat the illness and beyond that, that he would return to play. I am the happiest person there is because he is able to go back to do what he loves like so many of us. I can say that I can’t see myself without basketball and Koren experienced this which just shows how mentally strong he is and that nothing will break him.”
Yonatan Rabinowitz who also played with Jorno had warm words for his former national team cohort who is now going to play in the top division, “It’s amazing in my eyes that he is returning to play not only as a professional but in the WINNER League. Koren and I went up a level with the U16 and U8 team and I can remember 3-4 knockout games with a foot and half out the door and out of nowheres he put everything aside and slowly but surely helped bring back our confidence, brought us back into the contest and ended up leading us to victory. We became close over those summers.
“I remember when he began treatments and I went to visit him. His body was exhausted from the treatments but his head kept believing that he not only beat the illness but also return to play. That’s Jorno’s story, his love of the game and his insane mental strength that has brought him this far and will take him even further. I’m so happy for him that he has succeeded in realizing his dream and to be a part of a first division team despite everything he had to go through. The way I know him, we’ll be hearing from him for years on the court.”
Jorno’s representative is Matan Siman Tov who is the agent for many players including Israeli sensation Deni Avdija who he is currently with in the United States ahead of the NBA Draft. Siman Tov believes that this is one of his most important milestones that he has accomplished over the years in his role.
“I am so proud to represent a person with the personality like Koren Jorno. The way he handles his family, health and his personal victory shows what type of special person he is. I am happy and proud to be a small part of this exciting story. I want to thank the Gilboa management for their faith, cooperation and opportunity. For me, this is the most significant signing I have made as an agent.”
These are difficult days as we are in the midst of dealing with a global pandemic that has turned many things upside down, forcing many into quarantine or lockdown while others are suffering from uncertainty. But we need to reflect on the amazing story of Koren Jornp that is larger than life and puts everything into proportion. This is truly an inspirational Israeli story that provides hope for better times. Happy New Year.