(photo credit: Courtesy)
Five years after leaving Maccabi Tel Aviv, David Blatt is back coaching the team.
The Boston-born 51-year-old said he is delighted to “return home” after signing a three-year deal to become head coach of the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team on Friday.
Blatt coached Maccabi from 2001 to 2003 before spending two years as assistant to Pini Gershon.
He will take over from Gershon, who resigned last week, 10 days after seeing Maccabi lose to Hapoel Gilboa/Galil in the Israeli league championship final.
“It is a great honor for me to carry on the work that Pini Gershon did at this club,” Blatt told the club’s official Website. “There is a long road ahead of us and it is important that it ends in success.”
Maccabi had a disappointing European season in 2010, losing to underdog Partizan Belgrade in the Euroleague quarterfinals.
“I want to return Maccabi to its natural position in Europe and in
Israel,” Blatt said. “We will do this with incisiveness, character and
a level of excellence.”
Blatt spent last season coaching Greek team Aris Thessaloniki and has
also been the coach of the Russian national team for five years.
He led Russia to the 2007 EuroBasket title and is expected to continue
coaching the team while working for Maccabi. Russia is competing in the
World Basketball Championship which begins in August.
Tel Aviv chairman Shimon Mizrahi said the club’s management is “very happy about the appointment of David Blatt.”
“He is an impressive coach who has coached here in the past and you can not argue about his ability,” Mizrahi said.
Blatt, 51, first moved to Israel in 1981 after competing for the US at
the Maccabiah Games. The Princeton University graduate is expected to
introduce a rebuilding process at Maccabi.
A number of players have already parted ways with the club, including Gabonese forward Stephane Lasme who left last week.