Agent: Eliyahu will play in the NBA

After decades of waiting for the first Israeli to reach the NBA, two Israeli players will be going head-to-head in the 2006 NBA draft.

lior eliyahu 88 (photo credit: )
lior eliyahu 88
(photo credit: )
After decades of waiting for the first Israeli to reach the NBA, the 2006 NBA Draft features two players going head-to-head hoping to secure the honor. Yotam Halperin and Lior Eliyahu both have strong shots of being taken in the draft, which will be held on June 28 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, but Eliyahu's agent indicated Tuesday that the young forward may decide to wait another year before trying his luck. In a phone interview with The Jerusalem Post, Steve Heumann of Entersport expressed confidence that Eliyahu belongs in the NBA, leaving the only question as to when. The decision will be an issue of "the likelihood of him getting drafted," Heumann said. "As we get closer [to draft day] we will have to decide if the offers we get from teams are good enough, and then Lior and I will sit down and decide whether he will stay in," or wait another year. The deadline for withdrawing his name from this year's draft is Saturday. Eliyahu, 20, has blossomed the last two seasons with Hapoel Galil Elyon-Golan and was named the Post's BSL Young Player of the Year after averaging 15.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and being selected for the FIBA EuroCup All-Star game. Heumann said that Eliyahu has played well so far this week at the major European pre-draft camp in Treviso, Italy, "Lior is excited about his experience. It has been a new experience for him, but he has his the ground running and done great." The camp ends Thursday, at which point Heumann said he will call all of the NBA representatives interested in Lior in order to "shed some clarity on Lior's standing by the end of the week." Heumann, who was also involved with Eliyahu's coach at Galil, Oded Katash's attempt to move to the NBA nearly a decade ago, said he has a "personal interest in working with Israeli players in Europe and America." He said he sought out Lior because "Lior will play in the NBA." So the only question that remains is when.