The night the lights went out at Gan Ner in the Galilee

I’ve been to roughly 4,000 sporting events from Major League Baseball to The National Football League and the National Basketball Association as well as the National Hockey League, Formula One, Nascar, World Class Boxing to Champions League, Euroleague in over 25 countries.

Israeli Sports? No one does them better than The Sports Rabbi. I’ve been to well over a thousand games between basketball and soccer in the Holy Land over the past 17 years, so you get the picture; I’m well versed in sports.

I’ve been to soccer games that were called due to power failures, I’ve been to a basketball game that saw one of the hoop’s break and there was no proper replacement and the game was called. I’ve also been to a Tel Aviv Derby between Maccabi and Hapoel when “Fuad” came out of the stands and attacked star striker Eran Zahavi and the game was called. And oh yes, I’ve been to a Maccabi Euroleague game when missiles were being fired by Hamas from Gaza into the Tel Aviv area.

When you think that you’ve seen it all, well, that’s not always the case.

What went on at Gan Ner on Wednesday night between Hapoel Gilboa Galil and Hapoel Holon in their Israel Basketball League Game two semifinal best of three series clash, was well, unique. And believe me, I’ve been to unique games in this country.

With 6:58 in the fourth quarter and the hosts Gilboa in the lead, the power went out as 2,000 fans sat in disbelief as the game was halted in its tracks. The lights flickered a couple of times but that was it. Nada as everyone whipped out their cell phones as the entire region fell into darkness and the generator did not kick ion and work.

The game’s commissioner and administration along the referees, the managers of the two teams, the Israel Basketball Association and the League CEO gathered together and all agreed that the game would be called should the lights not come back on in one hour, at 11:50pm.

As fans grew restless in the stands and as the arena began to swelter without air conditioning time ticked away minute by minute as the game commissioner kept in contact with all of the relevant officials.

With just minutes to go until the self-imposed deadline and with an official announcement literally about to be made on The Sports Channel, the lights came back on at 11:46pm and pandemonium ensued.

Holon refused to return to the court which normally would mean that a technical loss would be handed to them, thereby ending the series in a 2-0 sweep by Gilboa and they would then ready to play Maccabi Tel Aviv in the finals.

Gilboa came out and began to get ready to resume play and when the referees decided to get the game back underway, Seffi Shemesh a veteran Euroleague referee blew the whistle and called the game.

Holon chairman Eitan Lanciano went wild at league CEO Shlomi Peri who has had quite the year to say the least. “How is it possible that in the year 2021 there isn’t a generator? Instead of them being punished, I’ll get it instead. I won’t accept a technical defeat. If it’s a technical loss, then it’s a technical and if that is what they want to do, ok, go ahead.”

Gilboa coach Avishay Gordon is ready to move on, “They told us that we had to wait until 11:50pm, the lights came back on and we kept warming up the entire time. I don’t feel great about winning on a technicality but that is the decision of the league and commissioner and others who are above me. We are planning to prepare for Maccabi Tel Aviv.”

Holon wants the game to be replayed from the beginning and didn’t want to bring the players back onto the court as it would have put them at risk of injury after having been sitting around for an hour. Coach Stefanos Dedas even said that should they have gone back on the court and they were down by 15 points he would have put in the youth players.

The last that Dedas wanted to happen was to see a player get injured who are out of contract and then would suffer a loss going into the 2021/22 campaign.

On the other side, Gilboa looks at this as a technical loss for Holon and although they would rather to have settled the series on the court, they followed what had been decided by all of the parties involved and were ready to resume play while Holon wasn’t.

League CEO Shlomi Peri looked at Holon as having made a mistake by not coming back to play and he doesn’t see a replay happening after all sides had agreed to a plan.

The evening in question is now being discussed by all of the relevant parties as the Israel Basketball Association will review the referee’s and game commissioner’s report Thursday afternoon to determine if the game will result in a technical loss or if a replay will take place.

Should a replay occur it will most probably take place on Friday, but that is where the problems start. If Holon wins, game 3 would be Saturday night as game one of the finals is slated for Sunday evening which will be hosted by Maccabi Tel Aviv who are in the midst of preparing for a best of 3 series that has to end by Thursday June 17th due to organizing body FIBA’s regulations as Olympic qualifiers are slated to start at the end of the month.

I asked Peri if the finals could move to a 1 or possibly 2 game format but he answered in the negative. So if there is real concern that there could be further injuries as they stated about not wanting to resume the game then what about playing 3 games in 3 days? That would put even more stress on the players as they would head into game one of the finals already behind the 8-ball.

What will happen? In sports, anything and everything.

In Israel? The impossible is always possible.

Stay tuned…

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