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Basketball, Not Conflict In Antakya

03 November 2012
EUROCUP WOMEN

Antakya fans celebrate at their clubs debut in the EuroCup Women
Fans in Antakya celebrate their club's perfect start to the EuroCup Women season

Beginning the EuroCup Women season with a perfect 2-0 record, Antakya Belediyesi are creating news headlines in the southern Turkish city for all the right reasons.

Based on the closed border between Turkey and Syria, Antakya has been gaining international attention of late as war rages south of the border.

However, playing in their debut season in the EuroCup Women, Antakya Belediyes are doing their best to move the attention of the media to some of the more positive achievements in the region.

Playing in their opening home game against Israeli club Elitzur Ramla on 24 October, the local ladies were able to send the 1,500-strong crowd home happy following a 69-63 win.

The game was poignant in that it brought together teams from two countries that have been at odds politically in recent years (Elitzur Ramla are from Israel). Fair play endured throughout the encounter with no signs of any trouble from either team.

Following the game, Elitzur Ramla remained gracious in defeat, thanking the hosts for their hospitality.

"The game could have gone either way tonight. I congratulate Antakya for their win. And I also want to thank everybody involved for the sincere hospitality we have received during our stay in Antakya," head coach Adan Inbar said after the game.

"We are very happy to have won our first ever international basketball game tonight," Mayor of Antakya, Professor Lufti Savas was reported as saying, following the game, adding, "We are also very happy to have received the appreciation of our guests, the Elitzur Ramla Basketball delegation, for their stay in our city."

The Mayor also made reference to the role that fair play has played in the shaping of his city for generations, a city with close ties to Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

"Antakya is a city well known for its tradition of cultural diversity and understanding, and living up to our traditions of peace and friendship originating from thousands of years ago is a communal goal and important source of pride for us."

It is believed that Antakya is the first place in which the followers of Jesus Christ were called Christians for the first time; the Muslims consider the city to be an official holy pilgrimage site; and synagogues dot the landscape.

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