The start time of the Euroleague championship basketball game has been moved up by several hours to accommodate an Israeli team that does not want to play on its Memorial Day.
On Wednesday, the Euroleague said the May 8 final of its Final Four tournament in Barcelona, Spain, would be played at 5:30 p.m. Israel time, so as not to interfere with Yom Hazikaron, the memorial day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror.
Maccabi Tel Aviv, the most awarded sports team in Israeli history, qualified for the Final Four after beating the Spanish team Caja Laboral Vitoria in four games last week to capture their best-of-5-series.
Maccabi’s general manager, Shimon Mizrachi, the winner of this year’s prestigious Israel Prize, negotiated with the CEO of the Euroleague about changing the tipoff to an earlier hour.
Maccabi, which has won the Euroleague title four times since 1977, must win its semifinal game on May 6 to qualify for the finals.
The idea of an Israeli team playing on one of the most somber days on the Israeli calendar sparked controversy on the Israeli street.
In Maccabi’s case, it wasn’t the first time. Twenty years ago, the club was heavily criticized for playing in the semifinals of the European Final Four in a game that ended after the start of Memorial Day in Israel.