April 13, 2004
Hapoel Jerusalem captures its first European basketball championship and first international title by winning the ULEB Cup, also known as the EuroCup tournament, with an 83-72 victory over Real Madrid in Charleroi, Belgium.
The tournament, the second tier of European basketball competition, features 36 teams that have qualified based on their results in domestic competitions. They play throughout the 2003-04 season, starting with a group stage. The teams are divided into six six-team groups, and each team plays home and away games against each of the other five teams in its group.
Hapoel Jerusalem advances by finishing second in its group, behind Serbian club Reflex, with a 6-4 record. Hapoel Jerusalem beats a Polish team in the Round of 16, a Lithuanian team in the quarterfinals and Reflex in the semifinals.
The EuroCup win generates more interest in Hapoel Jerusalem and helps it sign four American veterans of the NBA for the 2004-05 season: Tamar Slay, Horace Jenkins, Roger Mason and Mario Austin. Hapoel Jerusalem’s biggest rival, Maccabi Tel Aviv, wins the top-tier EuroLeague in 2004, so both of the major European basketball titles are held by Israeli teams.
Hapoel Jerusalem was founded in 1935 and first played in the Israeli Premier League in 1955. The club has won six State Cups, the first in 1996, and two Israeli championships, in 2015 and 2017, the latter with the help of American star Amar’e Stoudemire.