Birenboim bounced out of Rishon Lezion

January 1, 2013 03:30

After three-and-a-half years at Maccabi Rishon Lezion, the BSL’s longest-serving coach Effi Birenboim is fired.

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Maccabi Rishon coach Effi Birenboim

Maccabi Rishon coach Effi Birenboim 390. (photo credit:Adi Avishai)

After three-and-a-half years at Maccabi Rishon Lezion, the BSL’s longest-serving coach Effi Birenboim was fired on Monday morning.

Birenboim was sacked several hours after Rishon dropped to its sixth defeat in its past eight league games, losing 79-73 to Maccabi Haifa on Sunday night.

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However, Birenboim, whose 322 wins rank him third all-time in Israeli league history behind only Yehoshua Rozin and Pini Gershon, was sent packing mainly due to his clash with Rishon chairman Yitzhak Perry.

Birenboim was close to former chairman Moshe Kaliski, who was ousted by Perry in the summer, and the coach’s deteriorating relationship with the new chairman hit the point of no return on Sunday.

According to Perry, Birenboim swore at him towards the end of the defeat to Haifa, an allegation the coach vehemently denied.

Regardless, the breakup was inevitable and Roni Bosani is set to guide Rishon when it plays next against Hapoel Gilboa/Galil on Sunday.

Despite the recent struggles, Birenboim’s time at Rishon will be remembered as a resounding success.

The veteran coach guided the club to the Final Four for a second straight year last season and the current roster he built showed its promise by handing Maccabi Tel Aviv its only defeat of the BSL season two months ago to open its campaign 3-0.

Birenboim’s time in Rishon may have ended on a sour note, but it seems all but inevitable that he will be back on the BSL sidelines for a 28th straight season in 2013/14, if not beforehand.

Meanwhile, Hapoel Jerusalem continued its erratic ways on Monday, beating Hapoel Eilat 85-79 at Malha Arena.

Jerusalem opened the game with a 12-2 run and never trailed throughout the contest.

A 14-3 push brought Eilat within two points (77-75) with two-and-a-half minutes to play, but Jerusalem replied with six quick points to improve to 6-5.

“We controlled the game from the start and I’m really pleased with our play,” said Jerusalem coach Sharon Drucker.

Jacob Pullen led Jerusalem with 20 points, while Raviv Limonad scored 19.

Scotty Hopson had 23 points for Eilat, which lost a second straight game to fall to 7-4.

Ironi Ashkelon won for the fifth time in six games on Monday, defeating Hapoel Gilboa/Galil 82-69.

Marcus Dove had 25 points and 12 rebounds for Ashkelon, which held Gilboa to 24 points in the second half.

Jamar Smith led Gilboa with 13 points.

Also Monday, Hapoel Tel Aviv was sentenced by the Israel Basketball Association disciplinary court to host its next home game against Hapoel Jerusalem 50 kilometers away from its current arena in Rishon Lezion.

Hapoel, which plans to appeal the ruling, was punished for the unruliness of its fans during last week’s game against Maccabi Ashdod.

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