BRUSSELS (Jan. 15)
Hundreds of supporters of Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team awaited in Deurne, near Antwerp, for the team’s scheduled games tomorrow and Thursday evenings against the Soviet Union’s TSKA Moscow team in the finals of the men’s European Basketball Champion’s Cup.
Since Israel and the Soviet Union do not have diplomatic relations, the basketball teams are playing their two games at a neutral site. Belgium, for the fourth time since 1981, has been chosen for this match between two of the best teams in the European tournament.
The selection of Belgium as the venue for this year’s game is due to the efforts of Leon Wandel, a former basketball player and manager of the Belgium national team, who keeps himself busy with the organization of the Maccabi Tel Aviv-Moscow encounter.
The 51-year-old industrialist is a member of the International Federation of Basketball Associations (IFBA) and of the Committee of European Cups. This year, the basketball final will be played at the arena hall in Deurne where almost all the 3,500 seats have been sold. Hundreds of supporters were expected here from Israel.
Today, a special El Al flight carrying the Israeli team and its supporters, was due to land at Deurne-Antwerp Airport for the first time in the history of this regional airport. Moreover, hundreds of Jews from the nearby city of Antwerp, waving Israeli flags, are expected in the arena hall to support the Tel Aviv team.
While the Israeli squad will be made to feel almost as if it were playing at its home court, the Soviet team, on the other hand, will only be accompanied by officials of the Soviet Embassy. The Israeli team has played the team from Moscow five times in this competition, with the Israelis taking four of the five games.
In the actual final competition, three teams are leading with five points. They are Maccabi Tel Aviv, Cibona Zagreb (Yugoslavia) and Boncorama (Italy). TSKA Moscow has four points.