By Johnny Askounis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
A complicated situation emerged for Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem. The team has been essentially divided ahead of action resuming in Israel’s Winner League.
The foreign players and head coach Aleksandar Dzikic will not follow the rest of the team to Israel due to the security situation, the team announced on Saturday. In discussions with the management, the players and experienced tactician expressed their deep concerns about not feeling safe to play in Israel next week, as noted in the club’s official update. They will instead remain in Belgrade. However, the team based in Jerusalem hopes to reunite the squad as soon as possible.
“We were all caught against our will in a complex and difficult situation, and the sense of security for the players is critical to the team’s success,” noted sports director Yonatan Alon, “We will keep our team together for the rest of the way in the Champions League. All the foreigners want to stay with Hapoel and continue on the special path we started. We will do our best in the Israeli league and hope that the reality in Israel will allow the team to reunite soon. The players worry about the safety of the team’s fans in Israel and wish for quiet days that will allow them to return to play for the crowd they love so much.”
Upon the decision to resume action in the top-tier division of Israel after one single game played on September 12, multiple teams are dealing with similar issues.
With assistant Shai Oleartchik in charge, Hapoel Jerusalem visits Maccabi Ironi Ramat Gan on Tuesday and Hapoel Afula on Thursday. Reuniting with the foreign players and Dzikic, the next game is against PAOK mateco behind closed doors in Aleksandar Nikolic Hall on December 13.
The runner-ups of the 2022-23 edition of the BCL are among the main contenders this season as well. Packing three wins in four continental outings ahead of the Gameday 5 encounter with PAOK, they are tied with the Thessaloniki outfit at the top of Group G of the Regular Season.
Photo Credit: Basketball Champions League