History - Maccabi Haifa Basketball Club
The Maccabi Haifa basketball team was one of the original eight teams to form the Israeli top division in the 1953-54 season. In the 60’s and 70’s, the Greens were a force in the city, with Haim (Ixy) Bochbinder under the baskets. Back in the Eighties, Romema Arena was consistently full and even the “Yellows” from Tel Aviv were scared to visit there. Games between Maccabi and Hapoel Haifa were well known and stars like Adi Gordon, Doron Shefa, Ari Rosenberg, Tomer Steinhauer, Assaf Barnea, Korn Amisha and others were part of the basketball experience in Haifa. However, after the glory days the team’s stature began to fade.
In the late 90’s, the team returned to become a municipal club – B.C. Haifa. This team even succeeded to defeat Maccabi Tel Aviv and finished fourth in the premier league in 2000-01 and 2001-02. Unfortunately, B.C. Haifa dissolved in 2005. A year after, Ilan Beck put Haifa’s adult professional team back on the map. His first action was to turn the feeder team of the club, Maccabi Bat Galim, which played in the third league, into the adult team of the club and changed the name to Maccabi Haifa. During the 2006-’07 season, the team was promoted from the third league to the second league, the national league. At the beginning of this season, 2007-’08, Jewish–American businessman Jeff Rosen purchased the team, setting the target of promoting to the first division in one season. The goal was achieved after a thrilling season for the Greens in which the team finished in second place.
In 2008-09, Jeff Rosen’s first season in the first division, the team reached the Israeli State Cup and the Israeli League Final, finishing runner-up in a tough contest against Maccabi Tel Aviv. In the 2009-10 season, the Greens finished in fourth place, but did not reach the final four after losing 3-1 in the quarterfinal series against Barak Netanya. In the 2010-11 season, the team moved to play in Nesher, due to a two-year renovation project at Romema Arena. The Greens struggled, finishing at the bottom of the league, but remained in the first division after defeating Irony Ashkelon in a relegation series. During the 2011-12 season, the Greens remained at Nesher and again the team struggled, finishing at the bottom of the league.
The 2012-13 season marked a new page for Maccabi Haifa. The Greens returned to their newly renovated Romema Arena with a 5,000 seating capacity, making it the second largest indoor arena in Israel. The fans came back to the gates as the team featured an impressive roster including Gal Mekel, Donta Smith, Pat Calathes, James Thomas, Paul Stoll and many others. The Greens reached the Israeli State Cup Final, and led until the last minutes of the game, before the Yellows from Maccabi Tel Aviv stormed back to win the game. Maccabi Haifa finished in second place in the league, after a dramatic come-from-behind victory over Hapoel Eilat in the last regular season game. The Greens steamrolled through Gilboa Galil in the quarterfinals sweeping the series 3-0, and edged Hapoel Eilat in the decisive fifth game of the semifinals, setting a new attendance record of 4,800 Green fans at Romema Arena. The Israeli Super League Final game was held at Romema Arena for the first time and the fans broke another attendance record, selling out the 5,000 seat arena. The Greens played an inspiring game in the Final, defeating powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv, 86-79, to win their first championship in franchise history.