In a sense, everything is new for Maccabi Rishon Lezion, which will compete in the 7DAYS EuroCup for the first time. However, after reaching the finals of both the Israeli Cup and the Israeli League last season, Coach Guy Goodes retains much of the squad that got that far. Only four players - point guard Devon Saddler, forwards Jordan Swing and Johnathan Williams and center Alex Chubrevich are new to the team this season, however, everyone but swingman Adam Ariel and Chubrevich is new to the EuroCup.
Point guard Devon Saddler will play a big role in the team after signing from Tsmoki-Minsk, with which he was named Belarusian League MVP last year. Saddler was tested by playing against Turkish Airlines EuroLeague contenders and EuroCup sides in the VTB United League and should be up to the challenge of a full season in the EuroCup. A tall point guard coming off a breakout season, Nimrod Tishman will spell Saddler at point guard and at times play alongside him. Combo-guard Alex Hamilton is a hard worker at both ends of the floor. He joined Rishon in December of last season and made a lasting impression. Just 25 years old, Hamilton can shoot, penetrate and pass on offense and handle the toughest defensive assignments. He appears to have a bright future. Well-traveled small forward Jordan Swing can be Rishon's glue guy with the added bonus of an excellent outside shot. Adam Ariel has three seasons of EuroCup experience under his belt with Hapoel Jerusalem, but at age 24 is still on the rise. In Noam Dovrat and Tal Peled, Rishon has two of the best young players in Israeli basketball locked up on long-term deals. Dovrat, 17, was the MVP at the FIBA U18 European Championship 2019, Division B, over the summer and started to see minutes with Rishon's first team last season. He could become a permanent part of the rotation soon. Peled, 17, will still be gaining experience in his first season with the first team.
Johnathan Williams showed a lot of promise in his first professional season with Los Angeles of the NBA and now is in Rishon eager to have more minutes and a bigger role. A good athlete with a good outside shot, Williams should make his living attacking the basket on offense and crashing the boards. Former Israeli national team player Oz Blayzer was Rishon's sixth man last season and can be a game-changer as a stretch-'4' in a small lineup. Darryl Monroe is a local favorite who has found ways to score and rebound at almost every one of the stops of his lengthy career. The 33-year-old is one of Rishon's most important players both for his production and his leadership. When Coach Goodes wants to go big, he will turn to Alex Chubrevich. The veteran banger is a force inside and a strong rebounder. Niv Balul, the son of former Israeli national team big man Kobi Balul, returns to his boyhood team after a season away and at age 20 hopes to crack the rotation.
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Big man Darryl Monroe has played only a season and a half in Rishon. The full season came in 2015-16 when he made history as the league MVP and led the club to its first - and to date only - Israeli championship. Last season he joined two-thirds of the way through the campaign and picked up where he left off by carrying the club back to the Israeli finals. At every place he's been, Monroe has been money in the bank; he scores, rebounds and puts his teams in position to win. Monroe will be counted on to be a team leader as Rishon heads into his and its first EuroCup season and those at the club are confident that he is, once again, the right man in the right spot.
There is genuine excitement in Rishon as the club prepares for its first EuroCup campaign. Coach Goodes has a team that is deep and hungry. He not only has a roster of players he trusts, but nearly all of them are out to prove they can compete at this level, which will be the first for all but two of them. The coach is experienced, the roster is versatile and young and the fan base is pumped up. That is a good recipe for a promising premiere run in the EuroCup.