New Hapoel Eilat coach Oded Katash said he hopes to guide the team back to its glory days after being officially unveiled in Israel’s southernmost city on Wednesday.

Katash signed a two-year deal to coach the BSL’s newest member last week, with BC Habika’a owner Doron Herzikowitz moving the club to Eilat after being promised NIS 1.5 million from mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevi.

Eilat’s total budget is expected to reach NIS 6.0 million and Katash believes there is great potential in the relocated club.

“I’m excited to be here,” said Katash, whose 18- month reign at Hapoel Jerusalem came to an abrupt ending last December following a 22-point thrashing at the hands of Habika’a.

“I have met people with a vision and a long term plan and this reminds me of the time when Hapoel Galil started anew in the Gilboa.

“I hope we can recreate what the club had here in the 1990’s.” Katash will basically have to build a new roster from scratch, with veteran Meir Tapiro, who played for Eilat in its heyday (1997- 1998), one of the names being mentioned in connection with the new team.

Hapoel Eilat was one of Israel’s top clubs in the 1990’s, gaining promotion to the top flight ahead of the 1991/92 season under the guidance of current Israel coach Arik Shivek and remaining there until 1999.

Eilat recorded its greatest season in 1997/98, losing in the playoff finals to Maccabi Tel Aviv and claiming a home victory over Greek giant Panathinaikos in the round of 16 of the Eurocup before ultimately being knocked out on the road.

“After three years with Habika’a we decided to do something different,” said owner Herzikowitz.

“We wanted to do something with Zionism and soul and I’m certain we will succeed.

“Basketball isn’t a business. It is not a place where you make money, but rather a place where you spend your money out of love.”

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