After seven seasons, the BSL voted to scrap the Final Four on Monday, while also approving new regulations regarding foreign players in a meeting between representatives of the league’s clubs during which BSL chairman Avner Kopel surprisingly announced his departure.

The Final Four format to decide the championship was introduced in the 2005/06 season in the hope of creating interest in a league completely dominated by Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Maccabi dropped its first league title in 15 years in the 2007/08 season following a dramatic defeat to Hapoel Holon and failed to claim the championship once more two years later after losing to Hapoel Gilboa/Galil in the final.

However, while it was refreshing for everyone other than Tel Aviv fans to see different sides win the championship, the unsporting nature of the Final Four format attracted growing criticism from all quarters and the BSL finally heeded the calls on Monday.

As of next season, a best-of-five semifinal series will be played, just like in the quarterfinals, with a onegame winner-takes-all final to take place to decide the title.

In the following two seasons, the championship will be determined with a home-and-away tie, with the higher seed to host the second leg.

Wholesale changes were also made regarding the number of foreigners each team can register and play at any given time.

Last season, the BSL dropped the “Russian rule,” deciding to allow each team to use no more than four foreigners in a league game.

In 2012/13, teams will be able to choose between two options.

They can decide to either continue with last season’s regulations or adopt the new rule, aptly named the Israeli rule, which dictates that a team must play with two Israelis on court at any given time while registering up to five foreigners for a game.

Regardless of which option a club selects, it will be allowed to use no more than eight foreigners during a season.

Starting from 2013/14, all teams will have to play according to the Israeli rule.

While it was widely expected that the BSL would make changes to the format and foreigners regulations, Kopel’s decision to leave caught almost everyone by surprise.

Kopel has headed the BSL since its formation 10 years ago, but decided to quit after being chosen as the Israel Basketball Association’s interim chairman, ahead of the elections for a permanent chairman later this summer.

“After 10 years as BSL chairman, who acted out of love and in a spirit of volunteering without any benefit of any sorts, and out of appreciation, respect and true friendship to the directorate members, I’ve decided that this is the right time to pass the mantle to the next chairman,” said Kopel, who will leave once a replacement is selected.

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