Despite the fact that his days at Maccabi Tel Aviv are numbered, coach Ainars Bagatskis remains defiant ahead of tonight’s Euroleague clash in Barcelona.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
If there was any doubt that coach Ainars Bagatskis might continue at Maccabi Tel Aviv, it was dispelled on Tuesday by the club’s deputy CEO Eli Driks.
The former Israel national team soccer player, who has worked at Maccabi Tel Aviv since 2008, didn’t mince words when asked who would be the yellow-and-blue’s head coach next season.
“I can say that Maccabi Tel Aviv will do everything so that it will have a deserving coach next season, a coach who we feel belongs at the top of the Euroleague and who is befitting of a club like Maccabi Tel Aviv,” said Driks, even though Bagatskis has yet to be told directly that he will not continue for another season.
The Latvian surely understands that his days at Maccabi are numbered, but he remained defiant ahead of Thursday’s Euroleague clash at Barcelona.
“There are so many rumors about me and the players that I don’t really care about them,” said Bagatskis ahead of the team’s departure for Spain on Wednesday. “We need to finish the season in the best way possible and then we will see what happens.”
Maccabi is desperate not to repeat the mistakes from this season, with four different coaches guiding the side in the Euroleague in 2016/17.
Erez Edelstein was sacked after two defeats to start the campaign, being replaced by his assistant Rami Hadar. After 10 continental contests, Hadar handed in his resignation, leaving assistant Lior Lubin to guide the team in two games before Bagatskis was hired.
Maccabi still believed in its chances when the Latvian was brought in, but seven defeats from 10 games deflated even the team’s most optimistic fans and the loss to Efes Istanbul two weeks ago officially eliminated Tel Aviv.
Maccabi’s Euroleague campaign will finally come to an end when it hosts Panathinaikos next Thursday.
Maccabi enters the game against Barcelona, which has also lost any chance of reaching the playoffs, with just 10 fit players.
Yogev Ohayon is set to miss the next three weeks of action after suffering a leg injury in the BSL defeat to Hapoel Holon on Sunday. He joins Andrew Goudelock, Quincy Miller and D.J. Seeley, who are also all out through injury.
As well as hiring a new coach, Maccabi will also overhaul its roster yet again this summer. Only five players seem likely to continue in 2017/18: Gal Mekel, Quincy Miller, Yogev Ohayon, Guy Pnini and Sylven Landesberg.
“There are successful years and there are difficult years,” said Driks. “I’m sure that the owners are doing everything so that the club returns to the place it deserves to be at, which is to be the No. 1 club in Israel and one of the leading clubs in Europe.”