Basketball / Players’ Strike Threatens to Cut Season Short

Israeli hoopsters protesting 'lack of opportunity’ for local talent; one round of games already lost.

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No end appears in sight to the players’ strike that caused Sunday night’s Super League basketball games to be called off. If anything, league management and the Israeli players protesting the number of foreigners playing here are digging their heels deeper into the parquet.

The Basketball Super League Administration announced Monday that the postponed games had been rescheduled for tomorrow. But the players’ union then scheduled a meeting to discuss the strike for the same hour games were due to tip off. And when the administration switched the games from tomorrow to Saturday, the players moved their meeting as well.

Players are protesting what they see as a lack of opportunities for young Israeli hoopsters, due to the high number of foreigners plying their trade in the country.
The current regulations allow teams to play with four foreign players on the court and to have up to six foreign players on the roster. Or they can use the so-called Russian Rule, which requires two Israelis to be on the floor at all times. Only Maccabi Tel Aviv and Galil/Gilboa opted to use the Russian Rule.

Compromise offer

Players are demanding that teams only be allowed to play with three foreigners, or have the Russian Rule changed so that three Israelis must be on the court at all times. The latest compromise offer from the administration is five foreigners, with the Russian Rule changed to include three local players on court and three local players under 22 on teams’ rosters for every game.

Channel 5 Sports reported last night that the players have rejected the Administration’s offer.

According to the report, players representatives relayed their answer to the Administration after a short meeting in Tel Aviv.

According to the One website, the players’ union explained its decision to reschedule the meeting by saying it wanted to give players from Maccabi Tel Aviv, which faces Turkish side Besiktas in the EuroLeague tomorrow, a chance to participate.

The union told One that Maccabi players have intimated they will take part in the strike, but sources tell the website that Maccabi players are keen to end the strike as soon as possible. 

Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Ricky Hickman (7) in action. Credit: Sefi Magrizo