There’s a new energy with the team, it’s special – Ramat Gan readies for top league action

Sep 12, 2023 | Holyland Hoops

Newly promoted Maccabi Ironi Ramat Gan held its opening press conference for the upcoming Winner League season at the Zisman Arena earlier this week.

“When I took over at Maccabi Ramat Gan four years ago when the team was in the Liga Artzit [Israel’s third tier basketball league], just before the team was about to go into liquidation, I said to the municipality that within four years we would be in the Winner League,” the team’s chairperson, Chen Shnaiderman, said at the start of the press conference. “I grew up at this club and never dreamed that I would be the chairperson of this team. To help return the team to the forefront of Israel basketball and to the summit, for me it’s very exciting.

“In the last four years we’ve made a huge turnaround in our youth club as well, with more than 1,800 children playing, making it one of the biggest clubs in the country,” Schnaiderman continued. “We are improving all the time, investing a lot of money and professionals. We’re happy with the results.”

Photo Credit: Ben Pask

Shnaiderman also took the opportunity to praise the work that the club has done in the leadup to the season and set clear goals for on the court: “I’m happy that the Zisman Arena will be an important part of this journey for us and at the moment we have sold 55% of our memberships. By the start of the season, I believe that we will have sold all memberships. On the court, our goal is clear – to make the playoffs in the upper bracket and to play in Europe the following season. I also want to thank the municipality mayor and to the municipality, who have invested in the Zisman arena – I feel like we have a partner for the path forward.”

Ramat Gan’s mayor, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, echoed the sentiments: “It’s a very exciting day. It was exciting to see the team last season. I’m sure that the team will play strongly on the court and make the city proud. For a long time we haven’t had a team like this to watch, that will represent the city and be a model.

“The municipality has rallied for the team, both thanks to the results and the way that the club has bene managed,” Shama-Hacohen said. “We remember that sport is also education, with fans who support. The municipality has put its hand deeply in its pocket and I promise you, Chen, that our hand will reach in deeper as long as the team continues to provide the positivity and example that we are looking for in sport.”

Photo Credit: Ben Pask

Coach Shmulik Brener and newly-appointed captain Adam Ariel also spoke of the excitement ahead of the season.

“It’s very exciting, I played basketball for 16 years and this is my eighth year as a coach, it’s a good time to say thank you to the players from last year and this year, thank you to Chen and to the Ramat Gan Municipality who have made my dream come true,” Brener said. “I’m proud to be a part of this, thank you to the mayor for the things that he said. We believe in excellence and we haven’t just said that we’re aiming for the upper bracket of the league, we really believe in ourself and what we’re building.”

“It’s very exciting that the management and staff see the spirit that I bring and my way on the court, that I am worthy to wear the jersey and lead the team,” Ariel said. “There’s a new energy with the team, it’s special. I believe that our goal as players and as a team is to bring this energy to the court. I hope that this arena will be full. We want to win and we won’t give up. For many of us this is a new beginning and we want to grow with the club.”

Ramat Gan plays against Bnei Herzliya in Herzliya on Thursday night in the preseason Winner Cup competition, with the winner earning the right to play against Hapoel Tel Aviv in the quarter final. The Winner League season then kicks off for Ramat Gan at the beginning of October in a home game against Hapoel Be’er Sheva/Dimona.

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