hap jlem tapiro 298.88.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Meir Tapiro cemented his place in Hapoel Jerusalem folklore last year with a heroic and tearful display in the BSL Final Four championship game against Maccabi Tel Aviv.
However, that unforgettable performance against Maccabi has turned out to be Tapiro's last as a Jerusalem player after he signed a two-year contract with Bnei Hasharon on Tuesday afternoon.
"This isn't an easy day for me," Tapiro said on Tuesday. "I'm leaving one home and joining another.
"Since the Final Four I was flooded with requests from Jerusalem fans urging me to stay. I'm leaving a special team, but I felt that this is a time for a change."
The 32-year-old guard played for Bnei Hasharon in the 2003/04 season, joining the team after three seasons with Jerusalem.
The following year Tapiro played in France for Nancy, leading the side to the French Cup and to the playoff final.
After a single season abroad he returned to Hapoel, guiding the team from the backcourt in the last two seasons.
Tapiro, who won his only Israeli title this season when he lifted the State Cup, averaged 10.9 points, four rebounds and 3.1 assists in 27 league games this year.
"We have signed the most significant Israeli player in the last decade," Bnei Hasharon coach Effi Birenboim said. "Tapiro has upgraded every team he's played at. He's the kind of player who can score a basket when everything else fails."
Taprio is the second notable player to leave Jerusalem in the off-season after Terence Morris signed for Maccabi Tel Aviv two weeks ago. Bnei Hasharon, on the other hand, has already re-signed its four foreign players - Cookie Belcher, Julios Page, Ousmane Cisse and Jason Williams - and is searching for a replacement for BSL MVP Lee Nailon.
Also on Tuesday, former Hapoel Jerusalem coach Erez Edelstein joined Greek giants Olympiakos, signing as an assistant to coach Pini Gershon.
The 45-year-old Edelstein was Gershon's assistant on Hapoel Jerusalem's 1996 cup winning side.
In 2004 he guided Hapoel Tel Aviv to the final of the playoffs, losing to Gershon's Maccabi.
Two years later, when coaching at Jerusalem, he faced Gershon in the Final Four championship game, but once again lost to the veteran coach.