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After a few weeks of workouts and two games at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, the Houston Rockets are "very pleased with Lior [Eliyahu]," special assistant to the general manager Sam Hinkie told The Jerusalem Post on Friday.
According to Hinkie, Eliyahu played reasonably well and performed the way the team expected him to. Through two summer league games, the Maccabi Tel Aviv star has logged 13.5 minutes a game, averaging 7.5 points and two rebounds while shooting 58 percent from the field.
While Eliyahu, who was selected 44th in the 2006 NBA draft, has not posted incredible numbers, he has performed well in limited minutes, and shown off the "nice offensive skills" he possesses.
It appears that it would be difficult for Eliyahu to make the Rockets roster for the upcoming year, but it is clear that the team is confident in his development.
Most likely, Maccabi fans will see their rising star in gold and blue for another season. However, as he is only 22 years old, and the Rockets are pleased with his progress, the possibility of playing in the NBA one day is very real for the 2.06-meter forward.
Eliyahu was due to return to Israel over the weekend to join the national team training for the EuroBasket last chance tournament which begins next month.
Houston's strength and conditioning coach George Maha said he feels that Eliyahu has the potential to play in the NBA. "The potential is definitely there," Maha said, "I think it is definitely possible." Although Eliyahu is still learning and growing as a basketball player, "he has a good base" to work with, although "it is not going to happen next month."
"Lior is a gifted offensive player. He is very athletic with good size, length, reach and a good wingspan," Maha added. "The skill set is there and he's showing flashes in summer league. We're encouraged by the way he looks now."
Maha stressed that Eliyahu still needs to work on getting bigger and stronger so he can improve as a rebounder and be more of a defensive presence.
As long as he "works hard and stays motivated" the potential is there for Eliyahu to be the first Israeli-born player to play in the NBA.