Israel will be one of four countries to host the FIBA EuroBasket 2017 tournament, the international basketball federation announced on Saturday.
It will be the first time that Israel will be hosting a European basketball championship. The other three countries to host the 2017 tournament will be Finland, Turkey and Romania who, like Israel, will be hosting a tournament for the first time.
Following on from the unprecedented success of EuroBasket 2015, which for the first time in the history of the competition was hosted by multiple countries, the FIBA Europe Board opted to follow the same path for the 2017 edition of Europe's premier basketball competition, the federation said in a statement.
The games to be hosted by Israel will take place in Tel Aviv. FIBA’s statement noted that Israel has previously had success in the event, taking home the silver medal in 1979.
Israel being named as a host country means it will automatically appeal to the championship.
The coach of Israel’s national basketball team, Erez Edelstein, welcomed the decision, saying that "this is a very important day for Israeli basketball, and I'm glad to be a part of this history."
"Hats off to the heads of the Israeli Basketball Association for their work behind the scenes and their achievement in bringing European championship basketball to fans in Israel," added Edelstein.
Israeli basketball player Gal Mekel, who is a member of the Israeli national team and who also currently plays for the Serbian Crvena zvezda team, welcomed the historic decision, saying, "Happiness and great excitement to hear news like that. This is a great milestone for Israeli basketball."
Amiram Halevy, chairman of the Israeli Basketball Association, said, "We waited for this day for a long time and worked hard to get to it. We're going to hold an exemplary championship, so they will not forget us in Europe and want to come back to us many times in the future."