Shocked Bnei Hasharon players return home after Ankara scare

Team set to receive technical loss for not playing game after arena was supposedly cleared of rioting fans.

bnei hasharon flee 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
bnei hasharon flee 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Bnei Hasharon returned to Israel on Wednesday morning, still appearing stunned by Tuesday night's terrifying experience in Ankara, Turkey. The team had been stranded in its dressing room for two hours after some 3,000 Turkish fans stormed the court moments before the tip-off of the Israeli side's Eurocup encounter against Turk Telekom. The supporters shouted "Allah Akbar" and, by some accounts, "Death to the Jews" in protest against the IDF's actions in Gaza, and forced them to flee for the locker rooms as the game was set to begin. "At the beginning they threw shoes at us and as we entered the court all the fans raced in our direction and we ran away," said exhausted Bnei Hasharon captain Meir Tapiro, who together with his teammates was smuggled from the hotel to the airport at 3 a.m. "I've been through a lot in my career, but never anything like this." Making matters even worse was the fact that ULEB announced on Tuesday that Bnei Hasharon is set to receive a technical loss for not playing the game after the arena was supposedly cleared of fans. Club chairman Eldad Akunis is determined to fight the decision and was understandably outraged with ULEB's statement. "If we receive a technical loss the Eurocup and Euroleague should be shut down," he said. "But that has yet to happen as the disciplinary judge hasn't given his ruling. "It was a life threatening situation and the Israeli Embassy told us unequivocally not to play." BSL chairman Avner Kopel spoke to the Euroleague CEO Jordi Bertomeu on Wednesday and sent him a letter demanding that Bnei Hasharon be given a technical victory. "Considering that the Turkish team was unable to guarantee the safety of the Israeli team's players we request that a technical victory be given to Bnei Hasharon," the letter read. "If our request is not to be accepted we ask that the game be replayed in a neutral venue or in front of empty stands in Turkey."