Bnei Herzliya coach Effi Birenboim.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
After 15 years of coaching across Europe, Muli Katzurin makes his return to the BSL on Sunday night when he takes his new team Bnei Herzliya to face Hapoel Gilboa/ Galil in Gan Ner.
Katzurin replaced Effi Birenboim as Bnei Herzliya’s coach last Wednesday after the latter surprisingly resigned following the team’s ninth defeat in 10 games.
The overtime loss to Ironi Ness Ziona last week saw Herzliya drop to a 6-15 record, just two games above Maccabi Ashdod and last place, which leads to National League relegation.
Katzurin last coached in the Israeli league in 1999 when he guided Maccabi Ramat Gan.
The 59-year-old, who also managed the Israel national team for seven years between 1997 and 2004, won the Polish championship with Wroclaw in 1999/2000.
He also coached the side in 2003/04, before moving to the Czech Republic and leading Nymburk to two league titles between 2006 and 2008.
He then took over the Poland national team (2008-2010) before relocating to Germany where he guided Alba Berlin during the 2010/11 campaign.
In the past two seasons he coached Skyliners Frankfurt, but he will finally be back in the BSL on Sunday after agreeing to step into Birenboim’s shoes.
Herzliya was tabbed by many experts to be the league’s dark horse this season, but it struggled for consistency in the first half of the regular season and completely lost its way in the past couple of months, leaving it in real danger of facing relegation to the second division.
“I’m excited to be back,” said Katzurin. “There are good guys here and the first thing I told them is to stop being good guys because winning games is difficult. The players need to change their mindset.”
The league will be split in two after all 12 teams complete their 22-game schedule on Monday.
The top four will duel for position, playing each other twice more after already securing home-court advantage in the quarterfinals, which will begin at the end of April.
The bottom eight sides will face one another once more for the four remaining playoff berths.
The team in last place will be demoted to the National League.
Also Sunday, Maccabi Rishon Lezion (6-15), which is tied with Herzliya, visits Hapoel Holon (10- 11), while Hapoel Jerusalem (17-4) looks to keep the pressure on Maccabi Tel Aviv with a 15th victory from 16 BSL games when it hosts Maccabi Haifa (14-7).
On Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv (17-4) welcomes Barak Netanya (7-14) and the battle for the final place in the top four will be decided when Hapoel Tel Aviv (13-8) hosts Maccabi Ashdod (4-17) and Ironi Ness Ziona (12-9) faces Hapoel Eilat (12-9).
Hapoel Tel Aviv will finish in the top four as long as it beats Ashdod or Ness Ziona loses to Eilat. A Ness Ziona victory combined with a home loss for Tel Aviv will see the former leapfrog into fourth place.