Israel Basketball League Preview 2021/22

Oct 3, 2021 | Holyland Hoops

The Israel Basketball season tips-off on Saturday night with a terrific matchup between the defending league champs Maccabi Tel Aviv and the new look Hapoel Haifa while games will continue on Sunday and Monday in a festive first gameday to get the new campaign going.

Hapoel Galil Elyon returned to the top flight, while Hapoel Jerusalem totally revamped its squad as the league also returned to 12 teams after a season that featured 13. On top of the domestic league, five clubs are also taking part in European play as Hapoel Eilat and Hapoel Gilboa Galil will take part in the FIBA Europe Cup competition which was won by Nes Ziona last year. Jerusalem and Holon will once again be in the Basketball Champions League and of course Maccabi Tel Aviv already opened up their continental campaign in the prestigious Euroleague.

Just ahead of the new season let’s take a look at the dozen clubs who will make a run for Israeli glory during the 2021/22 season.
Maccabi Tel Aviv
The yellow-and-blue are once again the odds on favorites to win the league title with a loaded squad and the biggest budget due to the fact that they play in the Euroleague. If the Winner Cup games were any indication, a competition that they won, then the rest of the league will be looking for ways to try and keep up between October and June. After an overhaul of their roster Israelis Iftach Ziv, Jake Cohen, Oz Blayzer, Roman Sorkin and John Dibartolomeo will feature prominently. In addition, Scottie Wilbekin will be the star of the show along with other newcomers Keenan Evans, James Nunnally and Jalen Reynolds. It’s going to be a very tough challenge to knock Maccabi off of its thrown.
Hapoel Jerusalem
The Reds made wholesale changes over the summer off-loading the majority of their squad while bringing in a bunch of new names including a brand new coach in Oren Amiel who returns to Israel after many years in the Czech Republic. One of the holdovers will be Adam Ariel who was appointed captain while Itay Segev, Willy Workman, Amit Gershon and Yuval Schneiderman round out the Israeli contingent. The club made a lot of noise signing a number of NBA veterans in former #1 draft pick Anthony Bennett along with Thon Maker and Sean Kilpatrick while Retin Obasohan, Jalen Adams and Kaiser Gates will also be mainstays throughout the campaign. Will the quality of the players be strong enough to compete in both the Champions League and the Israeli? That still remains to be seen and is a big question mark heading into the new season.
Hapoel Holon
Israel’s other Champions League representative had a fabulous season last year under bench boss Stefanos Dedas but he returned home to his native Greece and Maurizio Buscaglia will now be the man in charge. While the Purples kept a nice portion of the squad in veterans Chris Johnson, Guy Pnini, Frederic Bourdillon and Niv MIsgav who will be handed the keys as the backup point guard, they also have brought in solid imports in Michale Kyser, Joe Ragland, Mark Ogden and Steven Gray. However, one of the most interesting signings is Rafi Menco who returns to Israel after a year in France.  
Hapoel Gilboa Galil
Last season’s runner-up experienced quite a shakeup over the summer after their main sponsor Haim Ohayon passed away and the team had to totally re-make their roster almost from scratch under first year head coach Guy Kaplan.  The longtime assistant took over the reins from Avishay Gordon and will look to surprise many both in the domestic league and the Europe Cup with his squad which includes only a couple of holdovers in Yotam Hanochi and Benayahu Srur. Joe Chealey, Ronnie Harrell, Kaleb Wesson, Sacha Killeya-Jones and London Perrantes are the new foreigners who will ply their trade in Gan Ner as Michael Brisker, Noam Avivi, Or Cornelius and Tom Maayan shore up the Israeli contingent.
Hapoel Eilat
The Red Sea squad will once again be under the guidance of head coach Ariel Beit Halachmi who has already had to make roster moves since his summer signings as they look to repeat their fine performance from last season while also playing in the Europe Cup. Big man Justin Patton who comes over from the NBA will be a huge force for Eilat while veteran Greek guard Vangelis Mantzaris who is a 2x Euroleague champion will be a big factor as well. Bryon Allen, Romello White, Ben Carter, Joaquin Szuchman, Zuf Ben Moshe and Roi Huber will all be reliable contributors throughout the season as Beit Halachmi will look to build on his recent success.
Hapoel Haifa
Elad Hasin continues on as the head coach for the upcoming campaign and the bench boss had to almost totally rebuild his roster from the bottom up. NBA guard Kadeem Allen moves to the Carmel Mountain to pace the offense while veteran guard Gregory Vargas will also be a huge factor in running the attack. Spencer Weisz, Amit Simhon and James Thompson will all be important in the success of the Reds.
Nes Ziona
New head coach Lior Lubin is already off to a rough start as the defending Europe Cup champs won’t be able to defend their title after not being able to make it through the qualifying round while a number of foreign players have already been changed. Tal Dunne will once again be the team’s focal point as the veteran forward has been with the club for over a decade as Golan Gutt and Nimrod Tishman come over from Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion. Frank Bartley, Diante Garrett and Marin Maric will also look to make their mark as Israeli forward Lior Carreira is healing from an injury.
Hapoel Tel Aviv
Coach Danny Franco who joined the club in the middle of last season remains in place as do a number of players who helped the team survive a nervy relegation battle. Bar Timor, JP Tokoto, James Young, Raz Adam and youngster Lotan Amsalem all return while Dewan Hernandez, J’Covan Brown, Idan Zalmanson, Jonathan Skjoldebrand and Gil Beni all join the team as the Reds look to threaten the top of the league.
Hapoel Beer Sheva
Rami Hadar once again is behind the bench for the southern capital squad as Travis Warech, Ben Eisenhardt, Amir Bell, Amit Suss, Nick Hornsby and Neta Segal will all be back in red. Newcomers include Dererk Pardon, Junior Etou, Cody Demps, Gal Galinski and Under-18 star Ron Zipper as Hadar will look to return to the playoffs for the third time in four seasons.
Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion
Guy Goodes who was just appointed as the head coach of the Israel National Team will have rising star Noam Dovrat back on the squad as the NBA hopeful continues his development. In addition to Dovrat, Goodes signed a number of interesting players with high upside including Kris Clyburn and Malik Dime while the Israelis will consist of Netanel Artzi, Egor Koulechov as well as Guy Palatin and another up and coming star shooter in Tal Peled.
Bnei Herzliya
After surviving a tough relegation battle last year, Amit Aharoni takes over as head coach while Shawn Dawson returns to Israel after a few seasons in Spain. Dori Sahar and Sandy Cohen come over from Maccabi Tel Aviv as Yair Kravitz was named captain. Herzliya will also look to get prime performances out of their imports Chris Babb, Chinanu Onuaku, Quinton Hooker, Andy Van Vliet and Sha’Markus Kennedy in order to avoid last season’s unpleasant situation.
Hapoel Galil Elyon
The Israeli league newcomers will look to make some noise all the way up north at Kfar Blum under head coach Barak Peleg. Galil has an interesting mix of players that include Nimrod Levi who played for both Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem in the past, Isaiah Eisendorf as well as rising stars Itay Moskowitz and Yuval Levin. The imports are a solid group and include Bryce Washington, Ike Iroegbu, Chavaughn Lewis and Kyle Gibson. 

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