October 10, 2023 

Ongoing Israeli-Palestinean conflict impacts FIBA, WNBA

WNBA: 'Our thoughts remain with the people of Israel in the aftermath of this horrific event'

In light of the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict, FIBA Europe announced on Monday that all games involving Israeli teams in their competitions will be suspended until further notice. They stated that they will continue prioritizing the safety and well-being of all participants and stakeholders while monitoring the situation.

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The decision in future home and away games will affect five Israeli teams in the EuroCup Women and FIBA Europe Cup.

FIBA Europe confirmed that an update on the rescheduling of the games will be provided as soon as possible.

The WNBA provided an update on players currently playing overseas and stated that they are safe and in the process of returning home.

“We are in communication with the few WNBA players who were in Israel who are currently safe, and are now in the process of leaving the country,” WNBA said in a statement. “The WNBA condemns the attacks and the senseless loss of life. Our thoughts remain with the people of Israel in the aftermath of this horrific event.”

During the 2022-23 offseason, WNBA players such as Shakira Austin and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough of the Washington Mystics travelled to Israel to participate in overseas basketball leagues. This benefits their careers by providing them with additional international experience and allowing them to earn a higher income.

In a story by Ben Pickman from The Athletic from Jan., he highlighted how American basketball players, particularly bigs like Austin, play a crucial role in shaping the style of play in the country.

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Pickman also pointed out that Israel’s professional women’s basketball league is one of the many overseas leagues where American players significantly influence the outcome on the court. During winter, the country sees a lot of exceptional WNBA players who join their league, and their influence is a notable example of how top international players can transform the league’s style of play every year.

The WNBA dealt with a difficult situation in the 2021-22 off-season, when it was marred by the Russia-Ukraine war that began in Feb. Despite the conflict, all the players were able to return home safely. 

However, Phoenix Mercury’s superstar, Brittney Griner, was wrongly accused of drug charges and detained in Russia for almost 10 months before being released in December through a high-level prisoner exchange between Russia and the United States. Following her ordeal, many women’s basketball athletes left Russian teams and moved on to play elsewhere.

Written by Aya Abdeen

Aya Abdeen is a student in sports journalism at Arizona State University and has been a contributing writer for The Next since December 2022. She is also a sports reporter for the Sun Devils’ women’s basketball team for The State Press. Her work has also appeared on AZPreps365.

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