Less than a week after coming tantalizingly close to guiding Maccabi Haifa to the BSL championship, Danny Franco was relieved of his duties as head coach.
Former Haifa assistant coach Rami Hadar was named as his replacement for the 2014/15 season.
The 40-year-old Franco cemented his place among Israel’s best coaches at Haifa this season, only missing out on the league title after the second leg of the final against Maccabi Tel Aviv ended in bizarre fashion.
After Tel Aviv won the first leg 81-77 on the road, Haifa sent the tie to overtime with a 79-75 victory in regulation at Nokia Arena.
The Greens led by two points (84- 82) in the final seconds of overtime as Donta Smith prepared to attempt the last shot of the game.
Smith drove to the basket and his shot was ultimately blocked by Alex Tyus, but he said he was sure Haifa had already wrapped up a second straight championship, believing that a win by any margin in overtime would be sufficient for his team.
Franco was understandably inconsolable after the game, and despite stating his wish to remain at the club time and again, Haifa owner Jeff Rosen once more elected to make a change in the head coaching position.
The Greens went through five coaches over three campaigns between 2009 and 2012 and Brad Greenberg also lasted only a single season at the club despite leading Haifa to the championship in 2012/13.
“We would like to thank Danny Franco for an honorable run at defending the title,” said Rosen. “However, as an organization, we decided it is best to move in a different direction. We wish Danny the best in his future endeavors.”
Hadar, 47, returns to Haifa as head coach after guiding Hapoel Afula to the second division finals. Hadar’s team finished the regular season on a 15-2 run, earning him coach of the year honors.
“We are very excited to have Rami Hadar return to Maccabi Haifa as he played an integral role in earning the team’s first championship in franchise history,” said Rosen. “Rami is someone who is familiar with our organization and we’re confident he is an excellent fit for our team.”
Hadar served as an assistant coach to Greenberg during 2012/13 and was the team’s interim head coach for 11 games in 2011/12.
“I am happy and excited to coach Maccabi Haifa for the 2014/15 season, and to fill the big shoes of coach Danny Franco,” said Hadar.
Franco is sure to find a new job soon and has been linked with a move to Maccabi Tel Aviv to work as an assistant coach under Guy Goodes, whose appointment as David Blatt’s replacement is set to be made official in the coming days.