Pini Gershon is back.
In a shock development, Gershon and Maccabi Tel Aviv agreed to a one-year deal on Monday that will see the illustrious veteran work as an assistant to new head coach Guy Goodes.
The 62-year-old, who guided Maccabi to three European titles as well as numerous local trophies during three tenures as head coach between 1998 and 2010, hasn’t coached since he was sacked by the yellow-andblue four years ago.
Gershon, who was a member of Hapoel Holon’s management between 2011 and 2013 while also working as a media analyst over recent years, met with Goodes several times over recent days, with significant progress being made in their latest meeting on Monday morning.
“I will help Guy succeed,” said Gershon in an impromptu press conference at the club offices on Monday night. “I have helped many coaches during my career and I plan to help Guy. I have no intention of becoming Maccabi’s head coach. I hope he succeeds and I will give him all the credit. I will not replace Guy under any circumstance. I have won enough games and have taken enough titles. This is his time.”
The idea to bring in Gershon as an assistant was first raised by the Maccabi management several weeks ago, with Goodes initially objecting to the appointment.
However, his position softened over recent weeks after he failed to land any of the candidates he had targeted as his senior assistant, with Maccabi also agreeing to guarantee the second year of Goodes’s contract, which had been a team option, in order to calm his concerns.
“I’m personally very happy and I believe we will lead Maccabi to success,” said Goodes.
“I had my concerns, but after meeting with Pini several times I decided to bring him in. It wasn’t a simple decision, but I’m sure we will succeed.”
Goodes was named as David Blatt’s successor in June after four seasons as his assistant and the Maccabi management decided to target Gershon to work by his side to make up for his lack of experience as a Euroleague head coach.
Goodes’s initial wariness in agreeing to the appointment is understandable considering what happened at Maccabi seven years ago.
Oded Katash was named as the head coach ahead of the 2007/08 season, but due to his inexperience the club convinced him to agree to the hiring of Tzvika Sherf as a general manager. Following a poor run of results, Katash was fired and Sherf took over as coach.
“We trust Guy, he will be the one who makes the decisions,” said Maccabi chairman Shimon Mizrahi, who insisted it was Goodes’s idea to bring Gershon in as an assistant. “Pini isn’t coming to conspire against Guy.
He is coming to help. He said he will leave if Guy leaves. Guy has a two-year contract and Pini will only be given a one-year deal.”
Meanwhile, a jaded Israel national basketball team arrived in Groningen on Monday evening ahead of Wednesday’s EuroBasket 2015 qualifier against the Netherlands.
After a short layoff in Israel, the blue-and-white left for the Netherlands aiming to bounce back from Sunday’s heartbreaking overtime defeat to Montenegro in its qualifying opener in Nicosia, Cyprus.
The national team left Cyprus immediately after Sunday’s game and spent around 15 hours in Israel before boarding its flight for Amsterdam and then embarking on the two-hour drive to Groningen.
“The game against the Netherlands is like a Game 7 in a playoff series,” said Israel coach Erez Edelstein. “The fact we are traveling so much isn’t easy. We will be away from Israel for the next 10 days, but this is our job.”