Local Hoops: Mac TA acquires Hap J'lem's Dror Hagag

29-year-old signs 2-year contract and will likely be a key contributor off the bench for new coach Birenboim; Chester Simmons joins Yellows from Hapoel Holon.

hagag 224.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger [file])
hagag 224.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger [file])
Maccabi Tel Aviv continued its rebuilding process on Wednesday, announcing the signings of Dror Hagag and Chester Simmons. The 29-year-old Hagag, who was out of contract at Hapoel Jerusalem, signed a two-year contract at Maccabi and will likely be a key contributor off the bench for new coach Effi Birenboim. "This is a very happy day for me," Hagag said after putting pen to paper at the office of Maccabi chairman Shimon Mizrahi. "I hope I can give Maccabi just as much as I gave all my previous teams. It's painful for me to be leaving Hapoel Jerusalem, but this is the beginning of something new." The veteran reflected on the implications of the move. "In a way, signing for Maccabi is a reward for the long way I had to come and for the hard work I had to put in join my career. I'm delighted that it has happened," he said. Hagag began his career at third-division Elitzur Bat-Yam, and after three excellent seasons at Hapoel Tel Aviv moved to Belgium to play for Leuven. The tenacious guard won the Belgian Cup at Leuven and after just one season transferred to Euroleague team AEK Athens. A season later Hagag returned to Israel to play for Hapoel Jerusalem and helped the team to two State Cups in two seasons, averaging 9.1 points and 4.7 assists for the side last season. The 25-year-old Simmons joins Maccabi three weeks after beating the perennial champion to the BSL championship with Hapoel Holon. The swingman was outstanding for Hapoel Galil Elyon two seasons ago and was one of the league's best players last year, averaging 15 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists for Holon. Despite not being at his very best in the Final Four title game against Maccabi Tel Aviv the American did more than enough to impress the yellow and blue's management and coach. Also Wednesday, Ironi Nahariya announced that Yakov Gino will be the team's next coach. Gino, who coached Belgian club Leuven in the last two seasons, replaces Roni Bosani, who led the side to the BSL Final Four.