With nearly a quarter-million residents, Rishon Lezion is the fourth-largest city in Israel and it was only natural that it should have its own basketball team. Yitchak Peri is that man who took that dream to fruition in 1976 when he founded Maccabi Rishon Lezion and has served as its president ever since. Rishon spent its first decade in the lower leagues before gaining promotion to the top division in 1988. The club was eager to show it belonged and signed Israeli legend Miki Berkowitz for its debut season. Together with Richie Rellford, they led Rishon to a sixth-place in that first season. Two years later, Berkowitz's old Maccabi Tel Aviv backcourt mate Motti Aroesti joined him at Rishon and they led the team to the Israeli playoff finals before losing to their old team. On the heels of that, Rishon made its debut in European competitions in the fall of 1991 by sweeping CSA Steaua Bucarest in the Champions Cup first qualifying round. Gene Banks played a big role as Rishon reached the 1992 Israeli Cup championship game and the league semifinals. Many other big names wore the Rishon uniform in the 1990s, including Kevin Magee, James Gulley, Doron Jamchi and Joe Dawson, as the club settled into the middle of the pack in the league and regularly competed in the Korac Cup. Guy Goodes spent his final two seasons as a player with Rishon between 2002 and 2004 was hired as head coach 12 games into the next season. Goodes guided Rishon to the playoffs and the Israeli Cup semifinals in his first season on the sidelines, but the team lost to Maccabi Tel Aviv each time. In his first full season, Goodes led Rishon to the 2006 Israeli final four semifinals, where they lost to Hapoel Jerusalem on a last-second shot. A quiet period followed, but Rishon was back fighting for titles in 2011-12 when Brandon Bowman helped it reach the cup final and the final four semis. Rishon reached the sup semis the next season and the league semifinals the year after that. But it was the 2015-16 season that would go down in the record books; led by Shawn Dawson and Darryl Monroe, Rishon stunned Maccabi Tel Aviv in the semifinals and bested Hapoel Jerusalem in the championship game to claim the Israeli League crown for the first time. Rishon placed fourth the next season before a rough 2017-18 campaign. Last season, Rishon started hot and led by Cameron Long eliminated Maccabi Tel Aviv in the quarterfinals and Jerusalem in the semis en route to claiming the pre-season Winner Cup. Goodes replaced Tzvi Sherf as head coach in November and led the team to the Israeli League and Cup finals, where it lost to Maccabi Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, respectively. Now Rishon looks to take the next step on the European basketball scene when it makes its 7DAYS EuroCup debut.
|Israeli National League: 2015-16
|Israeli Basketball League Cup: 2018-19