Former Eurocup champion Hapoel Jerusalem boasts an impressive history and a brilliant fan base. The addition to that mix of an ambitious new ownership group and a state-of-the-art arena in progress may put the club from the Israeli capital in league with the giants of Europe. Hi-tech guru Ori Allon heads an ownership group that took charge this summer and as its first order of business signed Coach Brad Greenberg to a multi-year contract to guide the team forward in the Eurocup and Israeli League. Hapoel’s romance with the Eurocup began in 2004 when it rewrote European basketball history with an incredible postseason run with wins over Prokom, Lietuvos Rytas and FMP Zeleznik to reach the ULEB Cup Final. Hapoel then knocked off mighty Real Madrid in the title game in Charleroi, Belgium, for its first – and to date only – European trophy. Organized basketball in Jerusalem dates back to before the establishment of Israel and Hapoel Jerusalem was among the first teams when the Israeli League was founded in 1955. The club enjoyed few highlights in the decades that followed, but in the 1990s began a march that turned Jerusalem into the clear No. 2 in Israeli basketball behind Maccabi Tel Aviv. Star guard Adi Gordon led Jerusalem to its first two titles, the 1996 and ’97 Israeli Cups – the former with Coach Pini Gershon calling the shots on the sidelines. Jerusalem began making noise in Europe too and an appearance in the 1997 Saporta Cup quarterfinals helped the club reach the Euroleague for the first time. In 1999, Jerusalem beat out Maccabi for first place in the Israeli League regular season, but came up short in the playoff finals. Still the club continued making noise and played the original Euroleague season in 2000-01. In 2002 Meir Tapiro helped Jerusalem climb to the Saporta Cup semifinals and two years later, Willie Solomon, Doron Sheffer and Tunji Awojobi led Jerusalem to its first continental title. More recently Jerusalem lifted the Israeli Cup again in 2007 and 2008. Hapoel has been to the Israeli playoff semifinals in four of the past five years, but its drought of finals appearances stretches back to 2007. Likewise it has not gotten past the Eurocup regular season in three years running, though Jerusalem has been as far as the quarterfinals on four separate occasions. This year in Jerusalem, things may look different as Hapoel aims to shine bright and to compete hard for titles on all fronts.
ULEB Cup: 2003-04
Israeli National Cup: 1996, 1997, 2007, 2008