ODED KATASH (right) has excelled on the Hapoel Jerusalem sideline, especially in being able to earn the respect of – and relate to – his players, such as J’Covan Brown (left).
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Jerusalem extended the contract of coach Oded Katash this week through the end of the 2019/20 season in a move that wasn’t a surprise to many around the club.
Katash has brought a new vibe to the Reds since taking over in the middle of the 2017/18 season and has already brought home one trophy this campaign, the State Cup last month.
The current Israel national team coach, Katash has been in the business for 15 years once he retired as a player. He got his start at Hapoel Galil Elyon and then went to Maccabi Tel Aviv which was followed by a trip back up north to Hapoel Gilboa/Galil, where he won the championship over the yellow-and-blue.
After winning the league title, Katash joined Hapoel Jerusalem for his first term with the team and also manned the sidelines for Hapoel Tel Aviv and Hapoel Eilat before rejoining the capital city side.
As he has matured as a coach, Katash brings an air of confidence and veteran know-how along with being able to relate to today’s players. The process and journey he is taking with Jerusalem so far has been a positive one, with management, staff and players all buying into his methodology.
“I’m very happy and excited. I want to thank the management team and I’m pleased that they have shown confidence in me to extend my contract in the middle of the season,” said Katash.
“I stressed last season that I waited to coach this club for a number of years and there was a desire to see the process continue. From day one, I was given everything that I needed to succeed and I was made to feel at home. I want to acknowledge the fans and everyone that’s involved with the team on a day to day basis.”
One of Katash’s greatest attributes as a coach is that he has been able to capture the players’ respect and attention very quickly, helping build the roster with the club’s general manager and CEO Guy Harel this past summer.
One of the criteria Katash and Harel looked for in each player that they brought on board was that they had to be not only solid basketball players, but above all good people and quality individuals. This has been proven true so far this campaign as each and every player continuously praises the positive atmosphere around the club as being the ultimate key to its success.
“It was clear early on that Oded was going to stay with us, and the feeling was mutual to get an extension done,” said Harel. “There was no question that we all wanted to continue down this road together. It feels like Oded has been with us for a very, very long time.
“It all begins with Oded and his staff, the work that they have done and the title that we have already won. I want to thank Oded, who is staying with us. As he said, he is happy and excited, and so are we.”
After securing the State Cup in February the next mission is to advance to the Champions League Final Four. However, that won’t be an easy task as Jerusalem’s quarterfinal series is against one of the strongest clubs in the competition, Tenerife, which plays in arguably the best domestic league in Europe, Spain’s ACB League.
But after taking the first game of the two-legged series at home by the score of 75-73 on Wednesday night, there is cautious optimism and hope that the Reds will be able to return home next week after a trip to the Canary Islands with the victory.
Should Katash’s squad punch its ticket to the Final Four, the semifinals and final will most probably be played in the Pais Arena in Jerusalem, which would provide a huge home-court advantage in the quest to add another title to the trophy case.
“There is something very special about this club and the path that it is taking and there will be results,” declared Eyal Homsky from the club’s ownership group. “We believe in Oded and we believe in the journey that he is taking all of us on as there will be more and more results.”
Does the continuity allow for Katash to potentially be considered one of Israel’s greatest coaches down the road?
“It was everyone’s desire to see Oded stay at the club and continue the process which he began. There is trust between all of us and my dream is that Oded will become Hapoel Jerusalem’s version of Alex Ferguson, the great Manchester United manager.”Joshua Halickman, the Sports Rabbi, covers Israeli sports and organizes Israel sports adventures for tourists and residents. Follow the Sports Rabbi on Twitter @thesportsrabbi or visit www.sportsrabbi.com. Feel free to contact the Sports Rabbi via email at email@example.com
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