Local Hoops: Hapoel J'lem given ULEB Cup spot after Holon quits Europe

Despite winning a historic BSL championship a month ago, Hapoel Holon will not take part in European competition next season. Holon owner and coach Miki Dorsman, who is set to leave the club, notified the BSL late last week that the team is forfeiting its place in the ULEB Cup next season. Dorsman said that the club will continue to be run by CEO Tubi Schwartz, but that he will not support the club financially anymore and will eventually relinquish his ownership as he cannot afford to keep pumping cash into the operation. As a result, the team will have a much smaller budget next season, with the funds to come from sponsors, the BSL and the Holon municipality. This lack of funds, combined with the fact that Thursday was the last opportunity to register for the ULEB Cup, Holon decided not to commit itself to the expensive adventure. Consequently, the BSL announced that Bnei Hasharon will take Holon's place in the group stage of the competition and that Hapoel Jerusalem will play in the qualification rounds as Israel's second representative. Jerusalem will need to come through two qualifying rounds to advance to the group stage of the competition it last won in 2004. "My leaving is not a shake up," Dorsman told Army radio. "Holon existed before I came and will continue to exist after I go." Dorsman, who has owned Holon since 2002, became disillusioned with the fact that despite winning the league title he couldn't raise significant money for the club. He even considered merging with Maccabi Rishon Lezion, but eventually chose against the controversial move, deciding he had enough of club ownership. Jerusalem, which has been Israel's main representive in the ULEB Cup in recent seasons, will relish the opportunity. After finishing in a disappointing sixth place in the BSL standings last season it had not expected to be given a spot in the second-tier European competition.