He’s the great American hope for Hapoel, which sees the basketball star as the key to finally squashing long-time rival Maccabi Tel Aviv on the road to national and European-league success. “There has never been a player at Amar’e’s level come to Israel before,” says Eran Soroka, NBA analyst for Israel’s Sport5 network and chief editor of the Nana 10 news site. “Even if he doesn’t end up as their top scorer, he’ll be the marquee player for Hapoel this season.”
One of the very best American players that has ever graced the courts of European basketball, was honored tonight by the team with which he won back-to-back Euroleague titles during the previous decade. Anthony Parker was inducted to Maccabi Tel Aviv Hall of Fame in a wonderful ceremony that took place before the prep game between the Israelis and Darussafaka Dogus in “Menora Mivtachim” arena. After he was honored by the management of the club, his jersey with the no. “8” was raised to the sky of “Nokia Arena” in a massive round of applause.
Gibson also has played in Turkey, Israel, Italy and Iran. Iran? “I was there for 37 days,” he said. “It was OK. The people were nice. It wasn’t like it looks on TV. Going over there, I was (worried). But once I got there, it was OK.” Iran also was where he had one of the weirdest experiences of his overseas travels. “I was walking through a big crowd and somebody took my shoes out of my backpack – while it was on my back,” he said. “The fans are into it over there. Soccer is No. 1, but basketball is No. 2 there.”
What a thunderous way for Hapoel Jerusalem to begin the new season. The rising power in Israeli basketball made a serious point in the Winner Cup final by defeating rivals Maccabi Tel Aviv 77 – 62 and getting the trophy in their bags. Curtis Jerrells paced the winners with 19 points, while Tarence Kinsey added 12 along with 6 rebounds. On the way to celebrating his first title in Israel, Amar’e Stoudemire dropped 9 points and grabbed 6 rebounds in the 25 minutes he spent on the floor.
Amar’e Stoudemire had his first practice with Hapoel Jerusalem, and while training sessions are traditionally closed door affairs, 600 fans turned up to cheer on the former NBA All-Star. The Israeli giants will compete in this season’s EuroCup despite joint efforts from the Israeli Basketball Association and FIBA to get them to join the Basketball Champions League instead.