Israeli Basketball Premier League
|Number of teams||12|
|Level on pyramid||1|
|Relegation to||Liga Leumit|
|Domestic cup(s)||State Cup|
FIBA Europe Cup
|Current champions||Hapoel Jerusalem
|Most championships||Maccabi Tel Aviv
|TV partners||Sport 5|
|2017–18 Israeli Basketball Premier League|
Ligat HaAl (Hebrew: ליגת העל, lit., Super League or Premier League), or the Israeli Basketball Premier League, is the top-tier level league of professional competition in Israeli club basketball, making it Israel's primary basketball competition. The league's name is abbreviated as either BSL (Basketball Super League) or ISBL (Israeli Basketball Super League). 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 run by the Israeli Basketball Super League Administration Ltd.
The most recent league champion is Hapoel Jerusalem.
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 called the ULEB Cup), and FIBA's EuroChallenge (formerly called the FIBA 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 finals 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 Final Four.
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. In 2016, Dragan Bender became the highest selection from the Israeli Basketball Premier League to be selected in an NBA draft with the Phoenix Suns taking him at 4th overall. Other players who have moved from the league to the NBA include Will Bynum, Anthony Parker, Roger Mason Jr., Eugene "Pooh" Jeter, Carlos Arroyo, and Nate Robinson.
In 2016 Amar'e Stoudemire retired from the NBA, however on August 1, 2016, he signed a two-year deal with Hapoel Jerusalem, a team he co-owns. On October 1, 2016, he helped Hapoel Jerusalem win the Israeli Basketball League Cup.
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||2||3|
|Maccabi Rishon LeZion||1||1|
|Hapoel Ramat Gan||0||6|
|Ironi Ramat Gan||0||3|
|Maccabi Ironi Ra'anana||0||1|
- Israeli Basketball Premier League MVP
- Israeli Basketball Premier League Finals MVP
- Israeli Basketball Premier League Quintet
- Israeli Basketball Premier League Defensive Player of the Year
- Israeli Basketball Premier League 6th Man of the Year
- Israeli Basketball Premier League Most Improved Player
- Israeli Basketball Premier League Discovery of the Year
- Israeli Basketball Premier League Coach of the Year
- Israel Basketball Association
- Israeli Basketball State Cup
- League Cup
- Liga Leumit
- Basketball in Israel
Notes and references
- "BSL Sponsors" (in Hebrew). Israeli Basketball Super League. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
- The Basketball Super League Administration for Men (archive) basket.co.il
- "Amar'e Stoudemire joins Hapoel Jerusalem!". Hapoel.co.il. August 1, 2016. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
- "הצהרת כוונות: האדומים זכו בגביע ווינר סל". Basket.co.il (in Hebrew). October 1, 2016. Retrieved October 2, 2016.
- [dead link]
- Eurobasket.com League Page
- Official website
- IL-Sports Israeli Sport Website in English
- Maccabi Haifa Heat and Maccabi Tel Aviv broadcasts for North America