Team Focus: Hapoel Galil Elyon

Sep 13, 2007 by Print
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    Regular Season
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Hapoel Galil Elyon No stranger to success at home, Hapoel Galil Elyon is poised to make its ULEB Cup debut this season. The club that has launched the careers of so many of Israel's best will be looking to do so in style, too. Galil is the only team besides Maccabi Tel Aviv to lift the Israeli crown in almost 40 years and this season it brings a throwback to its magical title season, Doron Sheffer, who known a thing or two about winning after lifting the ULEB Cup back in 2004. As usual, the Galil roster is a mix of seasoned vets and promising youngsters. Infact, there is no player on the team aged between 25 and 29! Head coach Eli Kaneti will essentially be starting from scratch, with only two main players back from last season. Sheffer will be the leader, using his experience, stellar passing and clutch shooting to anchor the squad from the perimeter. Young playmaker Yogev Ohayon – a defensive nuisance with a knack for big plays himself – is hoping for a breakout season at point guard, while rookie Aaron Nixon can create shots for himself and others. Swingman Mike Campbell is among the team's veterans, who has shown he can fill the baskets anywhere, and Eban Hyams can be counted on to create a spark off the bench with his determination. Clif Brown can make an impact at forward, scoring and grabbing rebounds in the paint. Gili Mossinson will bring athleticism and spirit with him from the bench. At center, newcomer Ekene Ibekwe, whose dunks can get the crowd going, will be the team's intimidating presence, while Josh Nigut will look to have an impact in his first run with the team. Although coach Kaneti will have his work cut out for him with such a young squad, if the veterans pull the young guys together, the unlimited potential of the players and Sheffer's winning spirit could make this another magical season for Galil.

Doron Sheffer
3rd place
Hapoel Galil Elyon is a special place in the development of nearly every Israeli basketball star. For decades, hordes of the top players in the country have migrated north to the “Israeli basketball college,” as its sometimes referred to, where they fine tune their games for the next level. The best of the lot usually move on to Maccabi Tel Aviv and Euroleague success. Nadav Henefeld, Doron Sheffer, Oded Kattash, Gur Shelef, Yoav Saffar, Sharon Shason and Lior Eliyahu as well as coaches Pini Gershon and David Blatt have all spent time in the team's cozy home at Kfar Blum, where the quiet area in northern Israel has helped them focus on the game. The team's best days came in 1993, when a Gershon-coached side with Sheffer, Brad Leaf, Andrew Kennedy and Mike Gibson struck gold by winning the club's only Israeli championship – and the only not won by Maccabi Tel Aviv in nearly 40 years. That year also marked Galil's best European run – a trip to the Saporta Cup semifinals where it was eventually knocked off by Efes Pilsen. Galil's ability to remain among the stronger teams in the Israeli League was at times a remarkable feat, since nearly every season the roster would see a large turnovers with a handful of already accomplished players "graduating" to bigger teams in the center of the country and new youngsters taking their place. Despite that fact, the team has continued to strive for success and has reached the playoff semifinals three times in the last five seasons. And looking ahead, there is no reason not expect more of the same. This season, with Sheffer – a former ULEB Cup champ with Hapoel Jerusalem – returns from retirement to provide leadership and head coach Eli Kaneti – ironically the coach of Maccabi when it fell short in '93 – at the helm, there should be a strong mix of youth and experience to make Galil dangerous once more