Basketball: Mac TA back on court

"Of course I'm excited," says chairman, Shimon Mizrahi. "If we weren't excited it would mean that we don't have very much to play for."

Mac TA 224.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Mac TA 224.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Bringing the curtain back up after what could easily have been the most disappointing season in Maccabi Tel Aviv's recent history, with the club managing to lose out on all three trophies from last season, Tuesday was the team's first training session for the 2008/2009 season. After falling in the Israeli Cup finals to Hapoel Jerusalem, the league championship finals to newly promoted Hapoel Holon, and the Euroleague final to CSKA Moscow, the players and administrators were raring to go. "Of course I'm excited," said chairman, Shimon Mizrahi. "If we weren't excited it would mean that we don't have very much to play for. Former head Coach Tzvika Sherf was let go at the end of last season with Bnei Hashron's Efi Birnbaum cast to play the main role. Derek Sharp was amongst the familiar faces in Hadar Yosef alongside Esteban Batista and Regev Fanan. Tal Burstein, who has been part of Maccabi for the past eight years, was also there although his physical status is still in doubt. Birnbaum decided to take Bnei Hasharon's small forward Jason Williams with him to Tel Aviv, alongside Holon's guard Tre Simmons, Jerusalem's Dror Hagag. New faces in the squad include forward Rodney White, Center D'or Fisher and the highly-accoladed Puerto Rican point guard Carlos Arroyo which is scheduled to join the squad next Tuesday. Last season's Lior Eliyahu and Omri Casspi, alongside Yaniv Green who was brought back from Russia only a year after his departure from Maccabi were not at the practice, due to International duties. "It always seems easy from the outside." Contested Birnbaum. "Obviously we will go after all of the trophies we are partaking in, but talking about it is not going to get us anywhere. In order to achieve this we will have to work extremely hard." Concerning the lack of Euroleague experience in this year's squad Birenbaum replied "No one here comes from outer space. Some have them played in the N.B.A., and others in different high demanding forums thus I have no doubt everyone with their wills and aspirations will do all that is needed in order to achieve victories." Maccabi is scheduled to officially kick off team training on September 2.