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In first, Israeli basketball player signs with Moroccan team

Former Hapoel Beersheba forward Mohamed Abu Arisha has reputedly been training and playing in Morocco for two months

Illustrative: Members of Hapoel Beersheba play against Hapoel Jerusalem at the Balkan International Basketball League match in Jerusalem, on October 22, 2020. (Flash90)
Illustrative: Members of Hapoel Beersheba play against Hapoel Jerusalem at the Balkan International Basketball League match in Jerusalem, on October 22, 2020. (Flash90)

Israeli basketball player Mohamed Abu Arisha has signed a contract to play for a team based in Morocco, according to reports.

The 24-year-old forward has signed a one-year contract with Morocco’s Association Michlifen Ifrane Basketball, commonly known as AMI Basket.

Most recently, Abu Arisha played for Israeli Premier League team Hapoel Beersheba, and has also played in the past for the Israeli national team.

“Indeed, the Arab-Israeli player Mohamed Abu Arisha signed with the club, and he started playing with us,” an executive with AMI Basket told the Andalou news agency. “The contract lasts for one year, after which we will decide on the player’s future with the club.”

According to Israel Hayom, it is the first time an Israeli player has been contracted by a team in the Arab world, though Israel’s Sport 5 channel says other Arab Israelis have played for Jordanian teams in the past.

In his first Instagram post in more than a year, Abu Arisha shared an image of himself in the new AMI Basket uniform and video footage of him scoring during a game. “They don’t like it but they gonna have to respect it,” he wrote.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by AMI City (@ami.city)

Abu Arisha, a native of Fureidis, played college basketball at both Jacksonville State University and Kentucky Wesleyan College in the United States.

According to Sport 5, Abu Arisha has already been training and playing in Morocco for more than two months, and is considered one of the best foreign players in the league, with an average of 19.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.

Morocco and Israel announced a resumption of diplomatic ties in 2020 as part of the groundbreaking Abraham Accords. The two nations have exchanged diplomats, though the Moroccan public is said to maintain strong pro-Palestinian sentiment.

The arrival of Abu Arisha in Morocco, however, has not sparked particular attention in the country, according to the Al-Araby news outlet, likely due to his Arab and Muslim background.

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