Larissa backs out of trip for security reasons

Local Eurochallenge hoops: Hapoel J'lem maintains the story is not over as IBA, FIBA sure to have the last word.

HAPOEL JERUSALEM sneed 248.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Jerusalem's next opponent in the EuroChallenge, Olympia Larissa, announced on its Web site on Wednesday that it will not be coming to Israel next week due to the security situation. The Greek side, which is scheduled to face Jerusalem at Malha Arena next Wednesday, explained that the safety of its players is the club's top priority and it has therefore decided not to travel to Israel. Larissa also said it has requested Hapoel and FIBA Europe to reschedule the game for January 20/21. European basketball's governing body has yet to comment on Olympia's announcement and Jerusalem chairman Danny Klein believes Larissa is attempting to pressure FIBA via the media. "We will wait for FIBA's decision," Klein told radio station 102FM on Wednesday. "I think it would look very bad if the game were to be rescheduled and the Israel Basketball Association has got to fight this. Olympiacos have already said they will be coming to Israel to face Maccabi Tel Aviv a day after Larissa is supposed to arrive, so I feel Olympia will have no choice but to come. "If FIBA and the IBA stand their ground, Larissa won't have any choice." Earlier this week, Larissa asked Jerusalem to move the game away from the capital, but Hapoel refused and said it is willing to vouch for the Greeks safety. Hapoel currently leads Group E of the EuroChallenge and defeated Larissa 71-54 when the teams met in Greece at the start of December. On Tuesday, Israel B lost in the final of the Haarlem basketball tournament in Amsterdam for a third straight year. Israel fell 65-64 to Arik Shivek's MyGuide Amsterdam, its second defeat of the tournament to the Israeli coach. Yogev Ohayon and Elishay Kadir each scored 16 points for the team, which was made up mostly of youngsters and was guided by national team coach Tzvika Sherf. "We had a pretty good tournament," Sherf said upon the team's arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport on Wednesday. "We played quite well and the players got international experience." Of playing abroad during the escalating security situation, Sherf said: "My heart goes out to all the places which are under rocket fire. Even though we were abroad we couldn't escape the happenings in Israel. The crowd in Amsterdam gave us a good reception although I heard that there were demonstrations in the main square."