Basketball / Maccabi TA May Have Final Four Taken Away

If the security situation in Israel fails to improve in the near future, Maccabi Tel Aviv risks losing the right to host European basketball's Final Four in 2004.

The Russian sports daily, Sport Express, published an article yesterday claiming that CSKA Moscow was set to replace Tel Aviv as the host for the marquee event of the continent's basketball season. The president of CSKA, Sergei Kushchenko, confirmed at the team's press conference in Moscow that the management committee of ULEB was considering making the switch if there was no significant improvement in the region.

CSKA applied to host the 2005 Final Four, after Barcelona (2003) and Maccabi Tel Aviv (2004), and has already been told that it will get the nod.

Kushchenko hinted that if ULEB continued to feel uneasy about the security situation in the Middle East and decided to strip Maccabi Tel Aviv of the right to host the Final Four, his team would be able to organize a tournament in time. In December, Moscow will host a meeting of the ULEB management committee at which one of the subjects under discussion will be a technical and security briefing regarding the upcoming Final Fours.

According to Maccabi Tel Aviv chairman Shimon Mizrahi, the Israeli champion is not looking for alternative venues to host its European games and sees no reason to move the Final Four away from Tel Aviv. Mizrahi said yesterday that there were still two-and-a-half years to go before the Final Four in Tel Aviv and that the situation in the region could change radically by then.

Dunkley back in Israel

Former Maccabi Tel Aviv star Spencer Dunkley, who won the league and cup double in his single season in Israel, has joined BC Haifa on a one-year contract. The 32-year-old American-born center holds a British passport and is joining as a Bosman-ruling addition to Haifa's roster.

Much-traveled Dunkley (32, 2.11 meters) started last season with Italy's Calabria, scoring 1.8 points per game and zero assists in his nine appearances with the team. Thereafter, he was loaned to Aveiro of Portugal, where he played just twice.