League, union agree to finish season

Meeting ends with agreement to discuss "Russian rule: after Final Four.

IBA Chairman Avner Kopel 311 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
IBA Chairman Avner Kopel 311
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
After a four-hour meeting on Tuesday with BSL chairman Avner Kopel, players’ union chairman Nir Alon canceled the planned strike for Wednesday, agreeing to discus the future of the “Russian rule” after the end of the season.
The players’ union declared two weeks ago that it will call a work-stoppage beginning April 13 as it has failed to come to an agreement with the BSL regarding the “Russian rule”.
Under the rule, which was copied from the Russian league five seasons ago in the hope of promoting local players, two Israeli players have to be on court at any given time during the game.
The BSL responded by announcing that if the players strike, there would be no more discussions and the 2010/11 season would end there and then and the playoffs, and the Final Four would not be held.
However, both sides understood that a work stoppage would be against their interests and, after meeting on Tuesday, Kopel and Alon came to an agreement which allows the season to be completed.
The sides agreed to meet again to discus a future deal in the two weeks following the Final Four title game on May 26. Should they fail to reach an arrangement, the BSL directorate will vote on June 30 to decide whether to extend the current agreement or adopt a new rule which would reduce the number of foreigners a team can use in a game to four instead of the six currently allowed, with all four being able to play at the same time.
With the strike being canceled, the players will turn their focus back to their on-court issues on Wednesday, with playoff seedings still to be determined.
After four defeats in its past five games, Bnei Hasharon has fallen to fourth place in the standings, a position it will be keen to escape as it means it will likely face a trickier quarterfinal series and also come up against Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Final Four semifinals should both teams advance.
Bnei Hasharon hosts Maccabi Haifa on Wednesday, and another defeat could see it eventually ending the regular season in fifth place without home-court advantage.
After struggling desperately, winning just four of its first 20 games of the season, Haifa has finally found its rhythm in recent weeks, winning three of five games, including a 79- 58 victory over Hapoel Jerusalem on Sunday.
Jerusalem hosts Maccabi Ashdod on Wednesday, looking to rebound from two straight defeats.
Besides Maccabi Tel Aviv – which has won 17 consecutive games and welcomes Barak Netanya on Wednesday – Hapoel Gilboa/Galil has been the hottest team in the league in recent weeks, winning six of seven contests, including victories over Hapoel Jerusalem and Bnei Hasharon in its last two games.
Gilboa visits Maccabi Rishon Lezion on Wednesday, knowing a victory will be a significant step towards clinching the runner-up position.
Also Wednesday, Hapoel Holon hosts Ironi Ashkelon.