For the first time ever, Israel’s national team began its training for this season’s EuroBasket campaign on Tuesday without any players from Maccabi Tel Aviv.
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Three Maccabi players were initially called up for the training: Itay Segev, who is in his third season at the club; Karam Mashour, who arrived this summer from Bnei Herzliya; and Jake Cohen, who just returned to the club after two years. However, for various reasons none were available for Tuesday’s session.
Due to the Maccabi players’ absence, and in light of the fact that another player, Gal Mekel (formerly of Maccabi Tel Aviv), is undergoing medical tests, the training included only 13 players – a much lower number than previous summer training camps ahead of EuroBasket campaigns.
Coach Erez Edelstein’s list of 21 players included two naturalized citizens: Cohen and Hapoel Jerusalem player Richard Howell, who received Israeli citizenship on the basis of his marriage to an Israeli woman.
Cohen had asked to be released from the EuroBasket team a few days ago, but his request was turned down.
Mashour, the first Arab-Israeli player to feature on the Israeli national team, is considered critical for Israel’s hopes of success in this season’s competition. Two weeks ago, he signed a two-year deal with Maccabi Tel Aviv, with an option to extend for a further season, based on medical reports that he was match-fit. However, a few days ago Mashour announced that the shoulder injury he suffered at the end of last season was back and, therefore, he would be unable to participate.
His injuries have yet to be confirmed by the national team doctor – the only physician able to release Mashour from his commitments to the national team.
Segev was expected to be part of Israel’s Olympic lineup this summer, but has been suspended from both competitions after failing to turn up for Olympic team training. Segev’s father claimed that Maccabi Tel Aviv had prevented him from taking part in the training. The players’ union is currently attempting to have the suspension lifted.