Basketball: Larissa fails to show up for Hapoel J'lem match

Greek team cites fears for players' safety due to war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Hapoel Jerusalem 224.88 (photo credit: Roi Levy [file])
Hapoel Jerusalem 224.88
(photo credit: Roi Levy [file])
Hapoel Jerusalem was granted a 20-0 technical win over Olympia Larissa on Wednesday after the Greek team failed to show up for its Eurochallenge game in the capital. Larissa officials had informed FIBA Europe that they were not prepared to travel to Israel due to fears for the safety of the players due to the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. After receiving security gurantees from the Israel Basketball Association, European basketball's governing body refused to accept Larissa's concerns. But, despite the ruling, the team from Greece said it was unable to travel because it could not find a last minute flight to Israel. On Wednesday, while Olympia was training on its home court in Greece, Hapoel took to its court at the Malha Arena and held a light 20 minute warm-up before accepting the bizarre victory. The three FIBA referees had even traveled to Israel for the game, and briefly took to the court, even though it was announced earlier in the day that the match would not be going ahead. Although the situation was uncomfortable for all involved, the result kept Jerusalem at the top of Group E in the Eurochallenge, giving it a much greater chance of qualifying for the next round. But Hapoel captain Erez Markovitch was far from satisfied with the final outcome. "These are the 20 saddest points [I've received]," said Markovitch. "I would have preferred not to have scored during the game rather than be in this position. "None of the players thought the situation was amusing. All of our thoughts are with the people in the South and we hope the situation will be resolved as soon as possible." "We have been in many situations in Malha but this is rather embarrassing, unfortunately due to sports-related issues," Hapoel chairman Danny Klein added. In the other Group E game on Wednesday, Germany's Oldenburg defeated MyGuide Amsterdam 78-62. "On one hand I think that we must respect their decision, but on the other hand, perhaps they should have dealt with the situation differently. "From what we understand the decision not to come here was that of the team president and I don't know whether it was made with political or other motives in mind."