Amid scandal, Maccabi heads for Spain

Amid scandal, Maccabi he

October 28, 2009 05:33
3 minute read.
maccabi tel aviv 224.88

maccabi tel aviv 224.88. (photo credit: Asaf Kliger/file)

Maccabi Tel Aviv left for Spain on Tuesday attempting to display a veneer of business as usual ahead of Thursday's Euroleague encounter against Caja Laboral Vitoria. But the players and professional staff on Israel's most prominent sports team could not escape the turmoil of the Moni Fanan scandal as they faced the media at Ben-Gurion Airport. Chairman Shimon Mizrahi and head coach Pini Gershon refused to answer questions posed to them by the press corps, with the players also dodging the subject of Fanan, the team's ex-manager, who is alleged to have run a private investment fund before committing suicide last week. All assistant coach Sharon Drucker would say was "most of the players on our roster have nothing to do with this because they are new," with center Yaniv Green stressing that "when we are on court we are focused only on basketball." Oded Katash was the latest Maccabi legend to be questioned by investigators at the Tax Authority offices in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, with Mizrahi expected to be called in for questioning when the team returns from Spain. Due to the increasing speculation following Fanan's death, the Euroleague decided to release a statement on the matter on Tuesday. "Euroleague Basketball would like to reiterate that it needs to respect the investigation that has been initiated by the Israeli Government. This is an on-going investigation related to the activities of an individual and not to the financial activities of the club Maccabi Tel Aviv," the statement read. "Euroleague Basketball can not give any information or statements with regards to the situation as the Israeli governement has not reached any conclusion. Once the investigation has any conclusive result and if said results include any involvement of any individuals or entities related to Euroleague and its activities, Euroleague will act accordingly." Maccabi has at least put an end to a previous scandal, sending an apology to the NBA and the Knicks for Gershon's behavior during an exhibition game at Madison Square Garden last Sunday when he refused to leave the court after being dismissed for two technical fouls. Gershon also said he was sorry in letters that were sent Monday to league commissioner David Stern and Knicks president Donnie Walsh. "Having had time to reflect on my actions while our team was in New York, I would like to apologize to the New York Knicks franchise, the NBA and basketball fans not only at Madison Square Garden but throughout the country," Gershon wrote. "Our trip to the US was for a wonderful cause - the children of Migdal Ohr - and hopefully a few minutes of bad behavior on my behalf won't detract from all the good that was accomplished by our spirited competition with the Knicks and the Clippers." The game in New York benefited Migdal Ohr, the world's largest orphanage. Maccabi Tel Aviv visited the Clippers two nights later. Gershon was ejected in the third quarter of the October 18 loss to the Knicks, but refused to leave the court, as rules specify. The game was delayed about eight minutes before Gershon agreed to leave, with Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman, the founder and dean of Migdal Ohr, coming on the floor to ask referees to let the coach stay. In his letter, Mizrahi thanked the NBA and the Knicks for their hospitality, and said Gershon should have left the court immediately instead of arguing with the officials. "We also join in apologizing, because behavior of this sort is not at all representative of our basketball club," Mizrahi wrote. The NBA confirmed that Stern received the letter. "The apology was unnecessary - and accepted," Stern said. "We have only the highest regard for Maccabi Tel Aviv, their ownership, coaches, players, and our longtime friend Shimon Mizrahi." The Knicks did not comment. AP contributed to this report.

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