Maccabi Rishon Lezion will be back for a second season in the 7DAYS EuroCup after making its debut in 2019-20. It took the team from Israel three games to book its historic first win in the competition. The Group A campaign started with a home loss against fellow EuroCup debutant Promitheas Patras and was followed by a defeat at Segafredo Virtus Bologna. Star guard Alex Hamilton was the Round 3 MVP as he carried Rishon to a 77-72 victory at home over AS Monaco. After losses to MoraBanc Andorra, ratiopharm Ulm and Promitheas, Rishon nearly surprised Virtus; it led after three quarters but struggled down the stretch to lose 79-85. Rishon’s losing streak extended to six games with defeats at Monaco and Andorra before the club gave its home fans one more reason to celebrate by knocking off Ulm 96-92 in overtime in Round 10 for the club’s second win in the competition. The victory again produced the EuroCup MVP for the week in James Kelly, who set club records with 27 points and 14 rebounds. Domestically, Rishon reached the semifinals of the Israeli State Cup but lost to Hapoel Jerusalem. It avenged that loss by eliminating Jerusalem in the playoff semifinals on a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Adam Ariel before losing narrowly to Turkish Airlines EuroLeague power Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv in Israel's championship game.
With nearly a quarter-million residents, Rishon LeZion is the fourth-largest city in Israel, and it was only natural that it should have its own basketball team. Yitchak Peri is that man who took that dream to fruition in 1976 when he founded Maccabi Rishon LeZion and has served as its president ever since. Rishon spent its first decade in the lower leagues before gaining promotion to the top division in 1988. The club was eager to show it belonged and signed Israeli legend Miki Berkowitz for its debut season. Together with Richie Rellford, they led Rishon to a sixth-place in that first season. Two years later, Berkowitz's old Maccabi Tel Aviv backcourt mate Motti Aroesti joined him at Rishon and they led the team to the Israeli playoff finals before losing to their old team. On the heels of that, Rishon made its debut in European competitions in the fall of 1991 by sweeping CSA Steaua Bucharest in the Champions Cup first qualifying round. Gene Banks played a big role as Rishon reached the 1992 Israeli Cup final and the league semifinals. Many other big names wore the Rishon uniform in the 1990s, including Kevin Magee, James Gulley, Doron Jamchi and Joe Dawson, as the club settled into the middle of the pack in the league and regularly competed in the Korac Cup. Guy Goodes spent his final two seasons as a player with Rishon between 2002 and 2004 was hired as head coach 12 games into the next season. Goodes guided Rishon to the playoffs and the Israeli Cup semifinals in his first season on the sidelines, but the team lost to Maccabi Tel Aviv each time. In his first full season, Goodes took Rishon to the 2006 Israeli final four semifinals, where they lost to Hapoel Jerusalem on a last-second shot. A quiet period followed, but Rishon was back fighting for titles in 2011-12 when Brandon Bowman helped it reach the Israeli Cup final and the final four semis. Rishon reached the cup semis the following season and the league semifinals the year after that. It was in 2015-16 that Rishon tore up the record books; led by Shawn Dawson and Darryl Monroe, Rishon stunned Maccabi Tel Aviv in the semifinals and bested Hapoel Jerusalem in the championship game to claim the Israeli League crown for the first time. Rishon placed fourth the next season before a rough 2017-18 campaign. A year later, Rishon started hot and led by Cameron Long eliminated Maccabi Tel Aviv in the quarterfinals and Jerusalem in the semis en route to claiming the pre-season Winner Cup. Goodes replaced Tzvi Sherf as head coach in November and led the team to the Israeli League and Cup finals, where it lost to Maccabi Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, respectively. Last season, Rishon took the next step in its basketball journey by debuting in the 7DAYS EuroCup. The club also reached the Israel Cup semifinals and, for the second in a row, the Israel League championship game. Rishon will be looking to take another step this season as it returns to the EuroCup.
|Israeli National League: 2015-16
|Israeli Basketball League Cup: 2018-19