Maccabi TA 311.
(photo credit: MK Productions)
Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Pini Gershon hopes that everything that he taught Bnei Hasharon boss Dan Shamir will not come back to haunt him in Thursday’s State Cup final at Nokia Arena.
The 35-year-old Shamir was Gershon’s assistant at Maccabi Tel Aviv during the 2003/04 and 2004/05 seasons in which the team claimed the Euroleague title as well as the league championship and State Cup.
“I’m happy for Dan that he reached the final. He deserves to be here,” said the 59-year-old Gershon. “But I hope he has a blackout and forgets all I taught him. Bnei Hasharon has potential. It is a well coached team.”
Maccabi failed to win the cup for the last three years, but has never gone more than three seasons without claiming Israel’s top cup competition.
Tel Aviv cruised to an 81-65 victory over Barak Netanya in Monday’s semifinal and has shown a dramatic improvement in form recently, claiming impressive victories in continental and local play.
“With all due respect to Bnei Hasharon, I
think this game depends on us,” Gershon said. “Both teams have improved since we played in the BSL and I hope the best team wins again on Thursday night.”
Maccabi beat Bnei Hasharon 79-76 two months ago, leading throughout the game and denying the hosts’ comeback attempt in the final minutes.
Bnei Hasharon, which lost in its previous two appearances in the cup final in 2005 and 2007, defeated Ironi Ashkelon 69-61 in Monday’s semi, but will have to play far better to have any chance of giving Tel Aviv a run for its money.
“This is our chance to record an upset,” said Shamir. “For me it is a dream to face Pini in a cup final. If we let Maccabi play its game it will win, but the final result isn’t predetermined.”
Shamir has never lost a cup game, leading Hapoel Jerusalem to back-to-back triumphs in 2007 and 2008 in his first two seasons as a head coach.
Guard Erez Katz hopes the team can help maintain it’s coach’s perfect record.
“I’m very proud of our team,” said the Bnei Hasharon captain.
“We worked very hard to get here and we have learned from our mistakes in our previous cup finals.”