Local Hoops: IBA toughens stance against potential EuroBasket absentees
Head coach Tzvika Sherf and IBA President Yirmi Olmert: Players who fail to show up will face a disciplinary committee and possible fine.
By SHARON SOLOMON
The EuroBasket 2007 last-chance tournament is just one month away, but the identity of the roster for the Israeli national team is still in question.
A number of the squad's key players are believed to be attempting to avoid playing in the crucial qualifying event, which begins on August 8.
Head coach Tzvika Sherf and Israel Basketball Association President Yirmi Olmert announced Wednesday evening that players who fail to show up despite being selected for the upcoming games will face a disciplinary committee and may be fined or suspended from local league play.
"Its no secret that many players are planning to skip their national duty," Sherf said at a press conference on Wednesday.
"This tournament is very important, as it's our last chance to qualify. Many of these players didn't play well last summer and it's their duty to prove their worth now. I hope that no disciplinary action will be needed.
"I'm not interested in mentioning specific names. All I know is that many of my players are not acting like professionals. Representing the country is a big honor and I'm disappointed with the recent developments."
Israel will fight for a place in EuroBasket with Ukraine, Denmark and Belgium in Group C of the last-chance tournament.
The Israelis will need to finish first in group play in order to qualify for a three-team competition in Madrid later in August. The winner of the three-team contest will advance to the European basketball championships to be held in Spain at the beginning of September.
Sherf is planning to start his training camp on Sunday, but the veteran trainer has a long list of potential absentees who can dent the team's chances.
The controversy started when Maccabi Tel Aviv's Lior Eliyahu left Israel for Las Vegas last week to play in the local summer league.
The NBA's Houston Rockets recently appointed Rick Adelman as head coach, who believes the Israeli has a place on his roster.
Eliyahu's Maccabi teammate Tal Burstein has also apparently pulled out of the national team. Sherf's starting guard stated nagging injuries as the reason for his decision, though the team doctors found no problems whatsoever. Sherf is scheduled to meet the swingman later this week to try and soften his stance.
Even the American-Israeli Jamie Arnold, who recently signed for Dinamo Moscow, has allegedly retired from international duty.
Arnold played for Maccabi Tel Aviv for the last two seasons and was slated to start at center for the national team. But he has not contacted the IBA since leaving for Russia last month.
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