Israeli Basketball Premier League
|Current season, competition or edition:
2013–14 Israeli Basketball Super League
|No. of teams||12|
|Continent||FIBA Europe (Europe)|
|Most recent champion(s)||Maccabi Tel Aviv|
|Most titles||Maccabi Tel Aviv (51 times)|
|TV partner(s)||Sport 5
Ligat HaAl (Hebrew: ליגת העל, lit Super/Premier League), or the Israeli Basketball Premier League, is the top tier of league basketball competition in Israeli basketball, making it Israel's primary basketball competition. For sponsorship reasons, the league is also referred to as Ligat Winner Sal (Hebrew: ליגת ווינר סל), lit. Winner Sal League, with "Winner" being the name of a game operated by the league's primary sponsor, Toto Winner and "Sal" meaning basket. The league is also sometimes referred to as the Israeli Premier League.
Ligat HaAl comprises the top twelve basketball clubs in Israel, and was founded in 1954.
The league itself is most known in Europe due to the success of the Israeli teams in the European competitions such as the Euroleague, Eurocup (formerly ULEB Cup) and FIBA's EuroChallenge (formerly EuroCup). Many undrafted and free agent players from Europe and the NBA play in the Israeli league as an alternative to NBA competition.
The league is the first division in Israeli basketball: the team that finishes last in a season is relegated to the Second Division, while the Second Division's top 8 teams compete in a play-off system right after the end of the regular season, with the team that reaches the final series being promoted to the Premier League for the following season.
There are 12 teams in the league and they play against each other twice in the league manner, once at their home and the other away. At the end of those two rounds, the teams are divided into two equal groups, top group and bottom group. The teams in each group play against each other once. All of the teams in the top group and the top two teams in the bottom group, advance to the five game series Quarterfinal. The winners of the Quarterfinals advance to the five game series Semifinals. The two teams that advance play two games in the Final to determine the league champion.
Links with the NBA
During the 1980s and the early 1990s there were many basketball games between the Israeli League stars and NBA teams such as the Phoenix Suns, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Orlando Magic, and the Los Angeles Lakers, all of which were played in Israel.
In October 2005, Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated the Toronto Raptors 105–103 in an exhibition game that was played in Toronto, Canada; this was the first victory for any European or Israeli team over an NBA team at its home court.
Over the years, the league has exported many of its foreign players to the NBA. In 2009, Omri Casspi became the first Israeli-born NBA player with the Sacramento Kings. Prior to that, three players have been drafted: Doron Sheffer (who played U.S. college basketball at Connecticut), Yotam Halperin and Lior Eliyahu. Oded Kattash agreed to play with the New York Knicks, but he never actually played in the NBA because of the 1998-99 NBA season lockout that started on July 1, 1998.
In the 2009 NBA Draft, Omri Casspi was selected 23rd overall by the Sacramento Kings, and Gal Mekel followed in 2013 by signing with Dallas Mavericks. Other players who have moved from the league to the NBA include Will Bynum, Anthony Parker, Roger Mason Jr., Eugene "Pooh" Jeter, and Carlos Arroyo.
High-profile American Jewish recruits
In 2011, the league imposed a limit of four non-Israelis per team. Jews are immediately eligible for Israeli citizenship, under Israel's Law of Return. Consequently, non-Israeli Jewish basketball players are able to join a team in the league without using up one of the few roster spots available for non-Israeli players.
Titles by team
|Maccabi Tel Aviv||51||7|
|Hapoel Tel Aviv||5||20|
|Hapoel Galil Elyon/Hapoel Gilboa Galil Elyon||2||3|
|Hapoel Ramat Gan||0||6|
|Ironi Ramat Gan||0||3|
|Maccabi Rishon LeZion||0||1|
|Maccabi Ironi Ra'anana||0||1|
- Israel Basketball Association
- Israeli Basketball State Cup
- League Cup
- Liga Leumit
- Basketball in Israel
Notes and references
- Official website
- IL-Sports Israeli Sport Website in English
- Maccabi Haifa Heat and Maccabi Tel Aviv broadcasts for North America