hapoel holon champions .
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
While much credit must be given to Miki Dorsman for putting together what proved to be a virtually unstopable Hapoel Holon team last season, it was the players themselves who put it all together on the court.
The Hapoel Holon side which won the 2007/08 Israeli league title was the definition of the word team.
The biggest star turned out to be small-forward P.J. Tucker, and his reaction to being named The Jerusalem Post's MVP for the local basketball season summed up the attitude of the entire Holon roster.
"It means a lot, it really does, but I swear I do it for my teammates," Tucker said.
"These guys come in every day, making sure to give me the ball when I need the ball and making big shots when they need to step up. These guys are unbelievable, man."
In its first season back in the top flight Holon steamrollered its opposition, ending the regular season in first place and then mustering every ounce of strength possible to overcome Maccabi Tel Aviv in the last few seconds of the championship game.
Malik Dixon's basket ensured a 73-72 victory at the Nokia Arena, the first time since 1993 that Maccabi hadn't won the league.
Another proof that it was not just talent alone which drove Holon to the very top can be seen in the fortunes of some of the players who left the club in the offseason in an attempt to take a step up.
At Holon they were essential elements of a winning team, but Tre Simmons and Elton Brown have been unable to make very much of an impact since joining Maccabi Tel Aviv.
The pair now appear to be on their way out of Maccabi with Simmons expected to join Hapoel Galil/Elyon Gilboa in the coming weeks.
Last season was special for Israeli basketball and it was Holon's team spirit which defined it.
Other Israeli teams did well in 2008 - Betar Jerusalem won a league and cup soccer double, Asa Tel Aviv won the men's and women's tennis State Cups and the Davis Cup team returned to the elite World Group top 16 of tennis nations.
But none had the wide ranging impact and sheer cohesiveness of Hapoel Holon.
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