The sporting falsification of the Israeli basketball - Jun 18, 2013
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May 2005, Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv just won their 12th consecutive domestic championship by sweeping Hapoel Tel-Aviv 0-3 in the final series and in an average of 33 points difference per game. It was also Maccabis 35th championship in the last 36 years an amazing thing in any standard. At the same time, the league management chairman, Avner Kopel, knew that he must do something in order to save the Israeli basketball before it dies. Kopel came up with the idea of cancelling the series system and change it to a final four system. The league will be played in three rounds and the first four teams will qualify for the final four. If its good for the Euroleague, itll be good enough for Israel. All the other clubs were enthused by the idea of having a real chance to win the title except one Shimon Mizrahi, Maccabis chairman. it doesnt make sense that a team can finish first with 0 losses in regular season, and lose in the semi final because its just one game, said Mizrahi.
Since the majority voted to try out the new system, Mizrahi had to agree as well but with three conditions: 1)Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv will have an automatic spot in the Euroleague regardless their position at the domestic league. 2)The final four will be played in Nokia arena, Maccabis home court which is also the only suitable arena for these kind of events. 3)The new system will be played for 2-3 seasons and then the series system will return.
Season 2005/06 was the first one to be played in the new system. Maccabi as expected, finished 1st with total of 26-4 and they played Ironi Nahariya who finished 4th with total of 17-13. It was Maccabis easiest final four, as they skipped them into the final, where they won Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem 66-96. But the signs of this problematic system appeared one year later, when Maccabi met Jerusalem once again in the final and this time Jerusalem was so close to lift the trophy for the first time. But Jamie Arnolds buzzer beater saw the yellow celebrate again with a 80-78 victory.
A year later something change in the Israeli basketball view when Hapoel Holon, the promoted team from the 2nd division, finished the regular season in the 1st place, the first time since 1999 that Maccabi doesnt located first. In regular season Holon won Maccabi twice and lost one and the final match was between these two teams. Holon was the better team along the season and a justice was made when Malick Dixon hit a buzzer beater to win the game for Holon 72-70. For the first time since 1993, Maccabi lost the championship. At that point still no one argued too much, because eventually Holon deserved the title. Since then, Maccabi lost the title twice in 5 years, recently last week. Why lost? Championship is not private property of Maccabi. Lost because both Altshuler Saham Galil Gilboa & Maccabi Bazan Haifa werent the best team during the season. While Altshuler Saham Galil Gilboa finished the season in 2nd place with no less then 10 losses more than Maccabi but still won the final game in Nokia, Maccabi Maccabi Bazan Haifa met Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv 5 times this season and lost all the games until the final game, which by the way, was decided in the middle of the season to be in Maccabi Bazan Haifas stadium and for the first time not in Nokia. (At that time, no one knew that Maccabi Bazan Haifa will qualify for the final, but once again, all the other clubs voted to move the final game from Nokia to Romema, Maccabi Bazan Haifas new stadium).
The Israeli basketball never looked more ridiculous then it looked right now. Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv has many fans across the country and also many people who would love to see other teams winning the title, in any way. They want competition and not the same champion for 23 years in a raw like Maccabi was since 1970-1993, something which doesnt exist in any other part of the world. But then again, the way to decide the championship is getting ridiculous every year. Both sides have good arguments: Maccabi in one hand, built themselves as one of Europe elite clubs over the past 50 years but they started from zero. Every year they have sane and balanced budget, unlike the Russian, Spanish and Turkish clubs and still manage to bring achievements & titles. On the other hand, in Israel Maccabi has budget more then two times then the 2nd richest club in Israel. Its almost impossible to win Maccabi in a series.
This year was the first year when the series return for the semi final phase and only the final was one game. But whats the point of winning your rivals during full season and finish first if the only game which will decide the champion, Maccabi cannot host? It is true that until today almost every final (cup or championship) was in Nokia since it was the biggest stadium in Israel by far and still is, but also because Maccabi always finished the season first and the minimum reward for their efforts should be home court advantage even if its just one game. Just imagine CSKA Moscow finish the regular season with 16-2 while BC Khimky Moscow Region finished second with 13-5 and after CSKA won every match between the two teams, the championship will be decided in one match at Khimkys arena. Sounds imaginary, right? Well, this is the exact way that Maccabi Maccabi Bazan Haifa won their first championship. By winning Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv in a single game, after 5 losses and in Maccabi Bazan Haifas new arena.
There are some points that the opposite to Maccabi is always brings up: 1. If the final four is good for Maccabi in the Euroleague, they shouldnt complain about it in the domestic league. Wrong. These are two different competition. While in the Euroleague Maccabi doesnt play vs. all the teams and the system is similar to a cup tournament, the Israeli league is being played in a league system, when every team plays each other in home & away rounds. The teams are working very hard during the season to finish as high as they can. So again, why to bother so much if the title will be decided in one game and not even at the arena of the team who finished in a higher place?
2. It is not fair that Maccabi will get an automatic license to play the Euroleague regardless their position in the Israeli league. The Euroleague is a private competition and the Euroleague management has the right to decide which teams should take place in the competition regardless their position in the domestic leagues. But Maccabi is also the only Israeli club that has the budget and arena to play in the Euroleague while most teams are withdraw from the European competitions like the UELB and the Eurochallenge, so how can they exactly play in the Euroleague? Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem got a wild card in 2004 but they passed on it since their arena didnt stand in the Euroleague standard and they didnt want to play in Nokia. Altshuler Saham Galil Gilboa/Gilboa was eliminated 3 years ago in the qualifying round.
3. Maccabis budget is way bigger than the rest, its impossible to compete with it. With all the respect, its not Maccabis problem that they are running the club maybe in the best way in Europe in the last 40-50 years, invest money, working hard, trying to improve and get better every year, while the rest of the Israeli clubs are always looking for shortcuts. Did Hapoel Holon maintain their team after their title? No, they almost didnt start the season year after and the same thing also happened to Altshuler Saham Galil Gilboa. So where is Maccabis fault in all this? Maccabi Bazan Haifa has a very good team but if they wont keep their squad and stability, this title wont be worth too much.
No doubt that the league management must act in order to fix this problem. Maccabis management already thought to leave the league if this current situation will continue and personally I think that its the best solution for both sides. The Adriatic league will contribute to Maccabi even though the fans will miss the passion of derby matches for example, while the Israeli league will get an equal league but theyll take the chance that without Maccabi the league can be hurt financially. In my opinion, the best offer is to try this option for one or two seasons to see how it goes. The next season will be even more weird, when the final will be played in a series of best of two. Home and away matches, the club who will win on aggragate will be the champion. Just when we thought that the league management cannot get any lower, they came up with this idea Maccabi Maccabi Bazan Haifa is not the one to blame here. Maccabi Maccabi Bazan Haifa did what they should, won Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv in the title match after 5 losses, so the newspaper can scream sensation!!! in the next morning, but even Maccabi Bazan Haifas players know that they werent the best team in Israel. Maccabi Maccabi Bazan Haifa was the best team on June 13, 2013 between 21:00 and 23:00.
Maccabi Kiryat Gat (Winner League) signed 28-year old forward Elad Knafo (197-89). It is actually his comeback to Kiryat Gat as he has played here before. Knafo He started the season at Hapoel Hevel Modi'in, the newcomer in Artzit. Knafo helped his team to make it to the National League Final in 2007. He has played previously for six other teams: Ironi Nahariya, Maccabi Ashdod, Hapoel Beeri, Elitzur Yavne, Hapoel Afula and Maccabi Ma'ale Adumim. [read more]
Maccabi Kiryat Gat (Winner League) signed 28-year old forward Elad Knafo (197-89). It is actually his comeback to Kiryat Gat as he has played here before. Knafo He started the season at Hapoel Hevel Modi'in, the newcomer in Artzit. Knafo helped his team to make it to the National League Final in 2007. He has played previously for six other teams: Ironi Nahariya, Maccabi Ashdod, Hapoel Beeri, Elitzur Yavne, Hapoel Afula and Maccabi Ma'ale Adumim.
Maccabi Hunter Haifa (Winner League) agreed terms with 28-year old Israeli center Anton Shoutvin (206-95kg-89). It is actually his comeback to Maccabi Haifa as he has played here before. Shoutvin He started the season at Iskra Svit in Slovakian SBL league. In 41 games he had very impressive stats: 15.6ppg, 5.7rpg and 1.2apg this season. Shoutvin helped them to make it to the Slovakian Cup Semifinals. The last season he played at Hapoel Beer Sheva (National League) where in 29 games he rec... [read more]
Maccabi Hunter Haifa (Winner League) agreed terms with 28-year old Israeli center Anton Shoutvin (206-95kg-89). It is actually his comeback to Maccabi Haifa as he has played here before. Shoutvin He started the season at Iskra Svit in Slovakian SBL league. In 41 games he had very impressive stats: 15.6ppg, 5.7rpg and 1.2apg this season. Shoutvin helped them to make it to the Slovakian Cup Semifinals. The last season he played at Hapoel Beer Sheva (National League) where in 29 games he recorded 12.1ppg, 4.9rpg and 2.4apg. Quite impressive season as he was named to Israeli National League All-Star Game and All-Domestic Players Team. Shoutvin represented Israel at the World University Games in Shenzhen (China) six years ago. His stats at that event were 7 games: 12.1ppg, 5.4rpg, FGP: 47.6%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 66.7%. Shoutvin has played previously professionally in Germany (USC Freiburg) and Israel (Galil Gilboa, Ironi Nahariya, Maccabi Ashdod, Benyamina and Elitzur Yavne).
Hapoel Tel-Aviv (Winner League) inked 29-year old American center LaRon Dendy (205-107kg-88, college: Middle Tennessee State). He started the season at Duzce Belediye in Turkish TBL league. In 34 games he recorded 14.4ppg, 8.7rpg, 2.2apg, 1.5spg and 1.3bpg this season. The last season Dendy played at Provence Basket in French ProB where in 20 games he averaged 12.6ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.3apg and 1.3spg. He has tried to make it to the NBA and played in the NBA Pro Summer League in 2013. Among othe... [read more]
Hapoel Tel-Aviv (Winner League) inked 29-year old American center LaRon Dendy (205-107kg-88, college: Middle Tennessee State). He started the season at Duzce Belediye in Turkish TBL league. In 34 games he recorded 14.4ppg, 8.7rpg, 2.2apg, 1.5spg and 1.3bpg this season. The last season Dendy played at Provence Basket in French ProB where in 20 games he averaged 12.6ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.3apg and 1.3spg. He has tried to make it to the NBA and played in the NBA Pro Summer League in 2013. Among other achievements Dendy's team won Sun Belt East Division Regular Season in 2012. He received also All-Sun Belt Player of the Year award back in 2012 at his college time. Dendy is a very experienced player. He has played also professionally in Greece (Kolossos H Hotels), Ukraine (Zaporizhya) and France (JDA Dijon). Dendy attended Middle Tennessee State until 2012 and it is his fifth season in pro basketball.
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