Israeli hoopster Shafir leaves for tourney with special jersey


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Naama Shafir accompanied the Israeli national women’s basketball squad to Poland with a special jersey that the team hopes will allow her to play in the Eurobasket tournament.

The team created a jersey with a shooter’s sleeve designed to cover her shoulder after FIBA Europe denied a request by the Israeli squad for Shafir, an Orthodox Jew, to wear a T-shirt under her jersey for modesty reasons. All players must wear the same uniform, according to rules set down by FIBA, the Munich-based organization that governs basketball in Europe.

Israel’s squad is hoping that FIBA will accept the special sleeve, which is made of nylon and spandex that extends from the player’s biceps to the wrist, Haaretz reported Thursday. The Israelis brought an extra player to the tournament in case the sleeve was rejected.

Israel will open the tournament Saturday against the Czech Republic and plays Belarus on Sunday and Great Britain on Monday.

Shafir, 21, who hails from the town of Hoshaya in northern Israel, told the Associated Press that she will not compromise her religious beliefs and will not play with her shoulders bare.

In April, Shafir scored 40 points to power the University of Toledo to victory in the championship game of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament — the school’s first-ever postseason tournament title. She wears a T-shirt under her jersey for her collegiate games.

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