David Blatt continues to receive recognition for his remarkable season with Maccabi Tel Aviv after being named on Monday as the 2013/14 Euroleague Basketball Alexander Gomelskiy Coach of the Year.
Blatt’s work at Maccabi over last season, which ended with a first Euroleague triumph for the club since 2005, didn’t go unnoticed by his peers in the competition.
The new Cleveland Cavaliers coach beat out Luca Banchi of Olimpia Milano, the team that Maccabi eliminated in the playoffs, who received the second-most votes while Pablo Laso of Real Madrid placed third.
Maccabi entered the Final Four as a clear underdog. The yellow-and-blue was the only team in Milan without a player on the All-Euroleague First Team, the only qualifier that had lacked home-court advantage in the playoffs, and the Final Four team with the lowest average performance index rating.
Nonetheless, Maccabi prevailed, “in large part because Blatt built a true team despite incorporating many new players, losing key contributors to injury and having to reinvent the team’s playing style”, read the Euroleague press release.
“Instead of letting obstacles become excuses, Blatt made sure that Maccabi was ready for every challenge until he and his players were celebrating the club’s sixth continental trophy, together with countless fans around the world,” the Euroleague added.
The Alexander Gomelskiy Coach of the Year Trophy, voted each year by the Euroleague head coaches, pays tribute to the coaching legend who won the first three Euroleague titles, from 1958 to 1960, with ASK Riga.
Gomelskiy, the father of basketball in the Soviet Union and Russia, also led CSKA Moscow to the continental crown in 1971, his fourth and final title. He passed away in 2005 at age 77. Since then, the award has been handed out to the best head coach of each Euroleague season, as voted by his peers.
Pini Gershon of Maccabi Tel Aviv was the inaugural winner in 2005. Ettore Messina of CSKA Moscow won in 2006 and 2008, while Zeljko Obradovic of Panathinaikos also won twice, in 2007 and 2011. Dusko Vujosevic won with Partizan in 2009; the 2010 winner was Xavi Pascual of Barcelona; Dusan Ivkovic of Olympiacos Piraeus was awarded the 2013 edition and Georgios Bartzokas received the 2014 trophy.
Blatt will coach the Cavs for the first time on Friday in the team’s Summer League opener in Las Vegas against Milwaukee.
Most head coaches allow their assistants to guide the team in the Summer League, but Blatt decided he wanted to take charge of the side in order to get to know the roster better and prepare himself for the regular season.