Latvian Ainars Bagatskis begins life as the head coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv today, inheriting a team with a 5-9 record in the Euroleague following Friday’s defeat to Darussafaka in Istanbul..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Ainars Bagatskis era at Maccabi Tel Aviv gets underway on Monday night when the yellow- and-blue visits Maccabi Rishon Lezion in BSL action. Maccabi will be hoping the Latvian’s tenure lasts a lot longer than those of Erez Edelstein, who was sacked just five games into the season, and Rami Hadar, who resigned after less than two months as his replacement.
Bagatskis is inheriting a team in the midst of its worst ever Euroleague run, with Maccabi dropping to its fifth consecutive defeat in continental action on Friday, squandering a 17-point halftime lead on the way to an 86-84 loss to David Blatt’s Darussafaka.
Bagatskis’ first Euroleague game in charge of the yellowand- blue will be at Baskonia Vitoria on Thursday, but he will first be aiming to get life at Maccabi off to a winning start against the reigning BSL champion on Monday.
Maccabi lost its most recent BSL game to Hapoel Gilboa/ Galil, dropping a 14-point lead in the final six minutes. Nevertheless, it still leads the local league standings with a 9-2 record and looks to pick up some much-needed momentum after losing four of its past five games over all competitions.
“I’m really excited to be here and to be part of such a famous club like Maccabi,” said Bagatskis, who left his post as Blatt’s assistant at Darussafaka to join Maccabi. “We are missing discipline, especially in defense, and also consistency in defense.
Good defense starts from good offense. They are supposed to be connected.”
Maccabi’s team manager Nikola Vujcic used Bagatskis’ unveiling to launch a scathing attack on some of the team’s critics.
“You can see the real friends and real supports in the tough times,” said the Croatian. “But you can also see a bunch of a****les that got lots of appreciation and money and their name from this club and the moment that we are a little bit struggling they are stepping on us.”
On Sunday, Hapoel Holon maintained its hold on second place with a third straight win, beating rock-bottom Maccabi Kiryat Gat 75-67.
Khalif Wyatt scored 17 points for Holon, which improved to 8-3. Curtis Kelly had 18 points for Kiryat Gat, which fell to 2-9 with a fifth consecutive defeat.
Also Sunday, Ironi Nahariya (4-7) thrashed Gilboa (5-6) 106-62 and Maccabi Haifa (4-7) beat Hapoel Eilat (5-6) 93-85 behind John Dibartolomeo’s 35 points.