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Maccabi Rishon LeZion (basketball)

Maccabi Rishon LeZion (Hebrew: מכבי ראשון לציון‎) is a basketball club based in Rishon LeZion, Israel. The club plays in Ligat Ha'Al. The biggest achievement of the club is an Israeli League championship in 2016.

Maccabi Rishon LeZion
Maccabi Rishon LeZion logo
LeaguesIsraeli Premier League
Founded1976; 43 years ago (1976)
HistoryMaccabi Rishon LeZion
ArenaBeit Maccabi
LocationRishon LeZion, Israel
Team colorsOrange and White
CEOGilad Ziv
PresidentItzhak Perry
Team managerZiv Cohen
Head coachGuy Goodes
Team captainOz Blayzer
Championships1 Israeli Championship
1 Israeli League Cup

The club is considered as one of the most popular basketball clubs in Israel and takes part in the Israeli premier league since 1989. Some notable players as Miki Berkovich, Doron Jamchi, Guy Goodes, Motti Aroesti, Kevin Magee, Moran Roth and Hen Lippin played in the club through the years.



Early yearsEdit

The club was founded in 1976 by Itzhak Perry and reached the top division, where they have remained since, in 1988–89 season. At the start of their first season in the top division, the Israeli star Miki Berkovich joined Roni Bosani and Richy Ralford and they led the team. Their coach was Moshe Vainkretz and they finished the season in the 6th place. In the following season Vainkretz replaced by Tal Tzuker, and the team finished in the 9th place.

The 90'sEdit

In 1990–91, Vainkretz returned to Maccabi Rishon. With some high-quality players like Miki Berkovich, Gene Banks, Andre Spencer and Motti Aroesti, the team finished the regular season in the 2nd place of the league. In the semi-finals of the playoffs, Maccabi Rishon won Hapoel Tel Aviv in a 3–0 sweep, and reached their first ever final series. In the final, they lost in four games (3–1) to Maccabi Tel Aviv. One season later, in 1991–92, most of the key players stayed and the team ended the regular season again in the 2nd place. This time, they lost in the semi-finals series to Hapoel Tel Aviv. However, Maccabi Rishon reached the final of the Israeli cup but lost 76:84 to Hapoel Galil Elyon. They also participated in the European League but lost in the second qualifying round to Dutch champions Den Helder, and dropped to the European Cup, where they eliminated in the group stage with a record of 3 wins and 7 losses.

In the end of the season, some key players as Banks, Spencer and Zlotikman left the team and because of it the team ended 7th in 1992–93 season, and participated in the bottom playoffs. This season, they also participated in FIBA Korac Cup, and eliminated by Fenerbahce in the 3rd qualifying round. In the summer, Pini Gershon replaced Vainkretz in the head coach role. Kevin Magee, who was one of the key players in Maccabi Tel Aviv of the 80's, joined instead of Miki Berkovich, the team's star, who left to Hapoel Jerusalem after five years in the club. Berkovich left with 1,974 points in his record and he's the best scorer in the history of Maccabi Rishon until today (2016). Gershon resigned after 13 games and Vainkretz returned to the system. The team finished again in the 7th place.

The years passed and Pini Gershon returned to a second term with Maccabi Rishon in 1997–98 season. Doron Jamchi led the team in points. Despite the high expectations from Gershon, the team ended the regular season in the 6th place. Rishon lost to Hapoel Eilat in the quarterfinals. In Korac Cup, the team lost in the third round to Polish side Stal Bobrek Bytom. In the following season Vainkretz returned to a third term in the club and finished the season in the 9th place and in the third round of Korac Cup.


After they lost in the first five games of 1999–00 season, Vainkretz resigned and replaced by Hanan Keren. The club suffered from a lot of economic problems and injuries, and finished the season in the 10th place. They didn't relegated only because of the league expansion. This year, the young player who moved to the first team from the youth department of the club, Afik Nissim, named as the Israeli Rising Star of the league.

In 2004–05, Guy Goodes, who retired from playing (as Maccabi Rishon player) one year before, appointed as head coach. The team lost to Maccabi Tel Aviv both in the league quarterfinals and in the semi-finals of the state cup. This year, Malik Dixon finished as the best scorer in the league and Erwin Dudley as the best rebounder. They both didn't stay in the club for the following season. With Goodes as head coach, the team "recovered" from the difficult years before. Omar Sneed, John Gilchrist, Ryan Sidney and Lee Matthews joined as foreign players, the Israelis Or Eitan and Moran Roth joined also and they all led Rishon to success in 2005–06 season. Rishon Lezion finished the regular season in the 3rd place. They lost in the final four to Hapoel Jerusalem by a last-second shot of Horace Jenkins. However, they won Irony Naharia in the 3rd place game. Eitan and Sneed named in the Israeli All-League First Team, and Guy Goodes named as the Head Coach of the Year. In the following season a lot of players left and Guy Goodes also. Gilad Katz took over as head coach. The team lost in the Israeli Basketball League Cup final to Ashkelon, and they returned to participate in the European competitions, this time in the EuroCup. Rishon eliminated in the group stage with a 2:4 record. The team finished the season in the 8th place.


The logo that the team used until 2017

Before 2009–10 season, the team did some changes to improve its situation. Effi Birnbaum appointed as head coach. Aaron McGhee, Darrell Tucker, Ugonna Onyekwe and Larry O'Bannon joined as foreign players alongside the Israeli players Avi Ben Chimol and Meir Tapiro. Tapiro ended as the assists leader, Ben Chimol in the 3rd place, but the team finished only 7th. They lost 3–1 to Hapoel Jerusalem in the quarterfinals. In 2010–11 Birnbaum stayed in his role as head coach, but the players' squad was refreshed. Magee and Tucker stayed, but the latter was later waived in the middle of the season. Isaiah Swann, Dwayne Mitchell and Raymar Morgan arrived in addition to the Israeli forward Nitzan Hanochi. They finished a good season in the 5th place, and won Bnei Hasharon with 3:2 in the quarterfinals series. They qualified to the final four where they defeated by Maccabi Tel Aviv (100:77) and then by Hapoel Jerusalem in the 3rd place game. Dwayne Mitchell named in the All-League First Team.

Birnbaum continued to a third season in the role in 2011–12 season. Hanochi was the only key player who stayed in the team from the last season, while the foreign players Joe Crawford, Brandon Bowman, Derwin Kitchen and Adrian Uter. Amit Ben David joined the team for a second term. The team reached, in the second time in their history, the Israeli State Cup final, 20 years after the first time. They lost to Maccabi Tel Aviv in Nokia Arena. In the league, Rishon ended the regular season in the 3rd place. In the playoffs quarterfinals, they met Ironi Ashkelon. Ashkelon won the first two games and were close to sweep, but Rishon managed to win three games in a row and reached the final four. In the semi-finals, they lost 75:68 to Maccabi Ashdod, and lost also to Hapoel Holon in the 3rd place game. Kitchen named in the All-League First Team. Maccabi Rishon started 2012–13 season with Effi Birnbaum as head coach. After 11 games, with only 5 wins, the board decided to terminate Birnbaum's contract and appoint former player and coach, Roni Bosani, as head coach. The fans didn't love this action and started to show their anger on club's chairman Itzhak Perry and even boycotted the team's home games. The team finished the regular season in the 6th place and lost 3–2 to Hapoel Eilat in the quarterfinals series. Uter, Hanochi and Ben David were leading the team this year, alongside foreigners Willie Warren, Julian Wright and Lazeric Jones. The young prospect Shawn Dawson made his first steps and started to gain some game minutes, with Or Solomon.

Maccabi Rishon celebrates its first ever championship in Pais Arena Jerusalem.

Rishon started 2013–14 season very bad. The former assistant coach, Matan Harush, appointed as head coach. He led the team in 11 games, and won only 3 games. The fans started to voice their disappointment, and Harush was fired. Few days later, he was replaced by former Maccabi Tel Aviv and Israel NT coach Zvika Sherf. Even with Sherf, the team suffered from instability. The team replaced a lot of players during the season, but Dawson, Hajaj and Solomon stayed. At the end of the season Rishon and Sherf finished in 10th from 12. They didn't relegate only because of a win in the final game of the season.

In the following season, 2014–15, the fans returned to fill the local arena but wanted to see a better team than the last season's one. The experienced coach Sharon Drucker was appointed and brought Nitzan Hanochi, Isaiah Swann and Tony Younger with him. Dominique Johnson and Jackie Carmichael also joined and led the team in scoring. The team finished the regular season in the 6th place. In the quarterfinals series, they won Hapoel Holon (3:1) even without the home-court advantage. In the semi-finals series, they lost to Hapoel Jerusalem, 3:0. Dawson continued to develop his game and named as the League Rising Star and in the All-League First Team, after averaged 20.3 points per game in the playoffs.

Champions after fairytale season (2015–16)Edit

The 2015–16 season was an unbelievable one for Rishon LeZion. Sharon Drucker was fired on 14 April and was replaced by Arik Shivek. With some high-quality players like Darryl Monroe and Mark Lyons, the team finished in sixth place in the regular season, and reached the quarter-finals of FIBA Europe Cup. After Rishon Lezion beat the higher ranked Maccabi Haifa in the Playoffs, the team faced Maccabi Tel Aviv in the semi-finals. Rishon stunned the powerhouse team from Tel Aviv, winning 71–69. Rishon LeZion had the right to play in the Israeli League Final for the first time since 1991.[1] On 9 June 2016, the club won their first championship after beating Hapoel Jerusalem 83–77 in the Final, in front of 11,600 spectators at Jerusalem's home arena.[2] Darryl Monroe was named Final Four MVP, after scoring 20 points against Maccabi Tel Aviv and 29 points against Jerusalem.[3]

Modern eraEdit

To start the 2018–19 season, Rishon LeZion won the Israeli Basketball League Cup. In the 2018–19 Premier League season, Rishon LeZion was the sixth seed in the regular season but managed to upset third-seeded Hapoel Holon in the playoffs, winning 1–3. In the semi-final of the Final Four, the team surprised Hapoel Jerusalem and won 92–86 to advance to their second ever final.[4]

Fans and ArenaEdit

Gush D during a game.

Gush DEdit

This is the organized group of supporters that follows the team in home games and in away games. This fans group was founded in 2001, and named on the seating place of them in the old arena of the club, Gan Nachum. In January 2014, they started to boycott the team's home games due to a conflict with the club's owner, Itzhak Perry. However, they returned to cheer the team only one year later, in January 2015.

Gan Nahum Municipal Hall (1984–2008)Edit

This is a multi-purpose sports arena with 1,500 seats. Since its opening in 1986 and until Bet Maccabi opening in 2008, it was the main sports hall in the city. It was the home arena of Maccabi Rishon since its opening day in 1986, and also hosted Maccabi and Hapoel Rishon LeZion handball clubs' home games.

The arena can host volleyball, handball, futsal and basketball activities. It has only one stand, in the northern side of the building. In the upper floor there are 1,000 seats and in the lower floor (which is removable) there are 500 seats. Today Gan Nahum Municipal Hall hosts the home games of Hapoel Rishon LeZion women's basketball team.

Sponsorship namesEdit

Due to sponsorship agreements, the club has known several names:

  • Maccabi "Israeli Center for Furniture" Rishon LeZion (2006–2009)
  • Maccabi "Offici" Rishon LeZion (2009–2012)
  • Maccabi "Pandoor Doors" Rishon LeZion (2012–2015)
  • Maccabi "RAND MEDIA" Rishon LeZion (2015–2017)
  • Maccabi "ILAND.TV" Rishon LeZion (2017–2018)
  • Maccabi "Mitcham 1000" Rishon LeZion (2019–present)

Current rosterEdit

Maccabi Rishon LeZion roster
Players Coaches
Pos. No. Nat. Name Ht. Age
G 1   Hamilton, Alex 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in) 25 – (1993-10-05)5 October 1993
G/F 11   Ariel, Adam 1.92 m (6 ft 4 in) 24 – (1994-12-10)10 December 1994
F 14   Blayzer, Oz (C) 2.00 m (6 ft 7 in) 26 – (1992-12-29)29 December 1992
G 30   Tishman, Nimrod 1.96 m (6 ft 5 in) 28 – (1991-05-12)12 May 1991
G 41   Dovrat, Noam 1.94 m (6 ft 4 in) 17 – (2002-07-16)16 July 2002
F/C 86   Monroe, Darryl 2.01 m (6 ft 7 in) 33 – (1986-01-30)30 January 1986
G 99   Peled, Tal 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in) 16 – (2002-09-14)14 September 2002
F   Swing, Jordan 1.98 m (6 ft 6 in) 28 – (1990-12-31)31 December 1990
C   Altit, Ben 2.08 m (6 ft 10 in) 26 – (1993-04-04)4 April 1993
F/C   Williams, Johnathan 2.06 m (6 ft 9 in) 24 – (1995-05-22)22 May 1995
F/C   Baloul, Niv 2.01 m (6 ft 7 in) 20 – (1998-11-12)12 November 1998
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)

  • (C) Team captain
  •   Injured

Updated: August 14, 2019

Depth chartEdit

Pos. Starting 5 Bench 1 Bench 2
C Johnathan Williams Ben Altit Niv Baloul
PF Darryl Monroe Oz Blayzer
SF Jordan Swing Noam Dovrat
SG Adam Ariel Tal Peled
PG Alex Hamilton Nimrod Tishman
  • The Israeli league rule requires every team to have at least one Israeli on the court at any time.
  • There should be at least 7 Israelis and up to 5 foreigners on a 12-men game sheet.


Notable playersEdit

Note: Flags indicate national team eligibility at FIBA sanctioned events. Players may hold other non-FIBA nationality not displayed.

Season by seasonEdit

Season Tier League Pos. Israeli Cup League Cup European competitions
2011–12 1 Premier League 3rd Runner-up Semifinalist
2012–13 6th Round of 16 Quarterfinalist
2013–14 10th Semifinalist Quarterfinalist
2014–15 4th Quarterfinalist -
2015–16 1st Semifinalist Semifinalist 3 FIBA Europe Cup
Round of 16 Semifinalist 3 Champions League
Quarterfinals Semifinalist
2018–19 2nd Runner-up Champion
2019–20 2 EuroCup



  1. ^ "Maccabi Rishon in Israeli Final After 25 Years | FIBA Europe Cup". Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  2. ^ For the first time in its history: Maccabi Rishon LeTsiyon state champion (in Israeli)
  3. ^ "Winner League: historical night for Maccabi Rishon, first Israeli title". Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  4. ^ "ISRAEL BASKETBALL SUPER LEAGUE - Israel Basketball - Season - Final Four - Semi Finals: Hapoel J-M Vs M. Rishon". Retrieved 11 June 2019.