Mashour to become first Israeli-Arab on Maccabi Tel Aviv

The Nazareth native will be the first Israeli-Arab to play for Maccabi.

July 9, 2017 23:25
2 minute read.
karam mashour maccabi tlv basketball

Israel nationaL team forward Karam Mashour joined Maccabi Tel Aviv yesterday, leaving Bnei Herzliya after establishing a reputation as one of the best local players in the BSL. (photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)

Maccabi Tel Aviv continued to ring the changes on Sunday, while Hapoel Jerusalem kept hold of another of its stars from last season’s triumphant roster.

The 25-year-old Karam Mashour became the latest and possibly final Israeli player to join Maccabi’s roster this summer, coming in from Bnei Herzliya on a three-year deal.

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The forward established himself as one of the leading local players in the BSL last season, averaging 14.5 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. Mashour joins new signings American-Israeli guard John DiBartolomeo, who helped Maccabi Haifa to the BSL final and was named as the league’s MVP last season, as well as American-Israelis Alex Tyus and Jake Cohen.

Guy Pnini, Gal Mekel, Sylven Landesberg and Yogev Ohayon were all told by Maccabi that their services are no longer in demand, with new coach Neven Spahija desperate to start with a clean slate after the team’s recent dejecting campaigns.

Maccabi will now turn its focus to bringing in new foreign players, with guard Tyrese Rice, who led the team to the Euroleague title in 2014 and played for Barcelona last season, its top target.

American Michael Roll became the side’s first foreign signing last week.

Mashour was selected as the breakthrough player of the year in 2015/16, his first in Herzliya. He took his game to the next level in 2016/17, staking his claim as one of the best Israeli players in the league.

The Nazareth native will be the first Israeli-Arab to play for Maccabi, with only two Arabs, including Mashour, to have played in the top division in more than a decade. A lack of infrastructure and tradition in the sport mean few Arab-Israeli youth seek a future as professional basketball players.

The first Arab-Israeli to play in the top division was Nizhar Dahi, who played for Maccabi Netanya during the 1987/88 season. There have been only three other Arab players in the first division since, with none achieving any sort of success.

Meanwhile, Jerusalem may have changed its coach from last season, with Greek Fotis Katsikaris replacing Simone Pianigiani, but the roster will have a very familiar look.

There was never any doubt that veteran Israelis Yotam Halperin and Lior Eliyahu, as well as American-Israeli Richard Howell, would return for 2017/18. They were soon joined by Americans Jerome Dyson and Tarence Kinsey. Amar’e Stoudemire didn’t meet pre-season expectations, but he is also expected to continue for another campaign.

There were many question marks regarding the future of playmaker Curtis Jerrells, but Jerusalem announced on Saturday that he has signed a new deal.

One new name Hapoel is hoping to bring aboard is Yogev Ohayon. Maccabi Tel Aviv had an option to extend his contract, but chose to compensate him instead, and the 30-year-old guard looks to be on his way to Jerusalem, where he played between 2009 and 2011 before moving to Tel Aviv.

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