Fresh off its second Israeli championship, Hapoel Gilboa/Galil Elyon aims to make history by playing its first Eurocup season. Galil twice before played in the Euroleague preliminary rounds, but has never been to the regular season in Europe’s premier competition. Galil 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 to the quiet area in the north of the country where they can focus on basketball and improve their games. Among the list of future stars to fine tune their games at the club before going on to big-time success are Nadav Henefeld, Doron Sheffer, Oded Kattash, Gur Shelef, Rimas Kaukenas, Lior Eliyahu, Omri Casspi and Elishay Kadir as well as coaches Pini Gershon and David Blatt. The club’s roots date back to a group of players from Kibutz Ma'ayan Baruch, who reached the top league in Israel in 1953 and then expanded to represent the entire region. It wasn’t until 1976 that the team became Galil Elyon and within three years it was in the top league again for good. Brad Leaf became the team’s first big star, teaming with Henefeld to lead Galil to its first title, the 1988 Israeli Cup. Four years later, Leaf starred alongside Sheffer as Galil lifted a second cup. The following season Galil reached new heights when Andrew Kennedy and Mike Gibson joined Leaf and Sheffer and under coach Gershon, they shocked Israeli basketball by winning the championship. That year also marked Galil's best European run – a trip to the Saporta Cup semifinals where it lost to eventual champ Efes Pilsen. Despite losing many of its stars and needing to rebuild after that run, Galil remained strong and was back in the Israeli League finals in 1995 and the Israeli Cup final in 1998, losing both times to Maccabi Tel Aviv. Galil also continued to compete in European competitions and has done so in all but two seasons since 1987. In 2007, Galil led by Tre Simmons, Kenny Adelke and a young Casspi finished the Israeli League in third place and earned its first ticket to the ULEB Cup. A 3-7 record was not enough to advance to the elimination rounds, but the experience served Galil well. In 2008, Galil Elyon merged with Hapoel Gilboa to form a new, stronger club and the results have surpassed all expectations. The first season, Galil reached the final four and took Maccabi Tel Aviv to the wire before losing in the semifinals and settling for third place. Last season, with Kattash on the sidelines and Kadir, Brian Randle and Jeremy Pargo as its stars, Galil stomped Maccabi 90-77 in the final and celebrated its second ever championship. Now with a new generation of talent, a great atmosphere for growing and an enthusiastic following, the club will try to take a great step forward by fighting for everything in the Eurocup.
Israeli National Championship
Israeli National Cup