Maccabi Tel Aviv head coach Rami Hadar (right) speaks to chairman Shimon Mizrahi.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
With a first win already under his belt, Rami Hadar looks to strengthen his hold on the head coaching position at Maccabi Tel Aviv by claiming a second Euroleague victory in three days when the yellow-andblue visits Zalgiris Kaunas in Lithuania on Friday night.
Hadar was promoted from his role as assistant and named as a full-time replacement for Erez Edelstein after the latter was surprisingly sacked on Sunday.
Nevertheless, the rumors regarding Maccabi’s interest in a bigger name from the continent have been rumbling since Edelstein was shown the door after just two Euroleague games. Hadar had never previously guided a team in Europe and has just two years of experience as a head coach in the BSL.
Hadar guided Maccabi to its first Euroleague win of the season on Wednesday, beating Galatasaray 98-92 at Yad Eliyahu Arena to improve to 1-2. Tel Aviv toiled to a win against one of the weakest teams in the competition and Hadar acknowledged that a significant improvement is required if Maccabi is to achieve its goals this season.
“There is no doubt that we need to quickly improve on the defensive end,” said Hadar ahead of the team’s departure for Lithuania. “We have tried to work on this in the little time we have had.”
Zalgiris, guided by former Maccabi star Sarunas Jasikevicius, also has a 1-2 record, losing 82-68 to Fenerbahce in Istanbul on Wednesday.
Jasikevicius was one of the names mentioned in connection with the Maccabi job prior to Edelstein’s appointment and also following his sacking.
Maccabi was being guided on Wednesday by a fifth different coach in 10 Euroleague games stretching back to last season.
Guy Goodes was fired last November following a game against Bamberg, with his assistant Avi Even guiding the team in the subsequent defeat to Darussafaka.
Croatian Zan Tabak was then brought in and coached the team’s last five regular season games, failing to lead it to the Top 16.
Edelstein lasted just two Euroleague contests this season and Hadar was at the helm on Wednesday and will still be there for Friday’s game in Lithuania, although it remains to be seen if he will be in charge until the end of the season.
“The atmosphere is great,” said Sonny Weems, who led Maccabi with 23 points against Galatasaray and is believed to be one of the players who clashed with Edelstein. “It was really important to win because starting out 0-2 is not good in the Euroleague. Getting this win is a big confidence boost for us and lets us know we are on the right track.”