Maccabi Tel Aviv sacked coach Erez Edelstein .
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
A two-sentence announcement sent out by e-mail at 2:27 a.m. on Sunday morning - that was the unceremonious fashion in which Erez Edelstein’s sacking by Maccabi Tel Aviv was declared to the world.
After just five games and a mere two weeks into the season, Maccabi decided to part ways with Edelstein, sending shock waves through Israeli sport.
Edelstein’s assistant Rami Hadar will take his place, with his first game to already come on Wednesday when the yellow-and-blue hosts Galatasaray in Euroleague action.
Maccabi won its first three games in the BSL, but lost its opening two Euroleague contests of the season, a 99-97 defeat at Olimpia Milano and an 89-82 setback at home to Real Madrid last Thursday.
The decision to fire Edelstein was made before Saturday’s BSL win over Hapoel Holon, with the club’s ownership believing that a toxic team meeting held on Friday had caused irreparable damage to his already rocky relationship with the players. The dressing room mutiny was led by Sonny Weems, who publicly criticized Edelstein following the loss to Real.
Edelstein was stunned to hear he had lost his job following a meeting with the team’s ownership and management late Saturday night and Maccabi immediately made the decision public.
“After a late night meeting between team owners, management and Erez Edelstein, it was decided to end Edelstein’s tenure as head coach due to inadequacy between the two sides. Rami Hadar will serve as head coach from now on, with Lior Liubin serving as 1st assistant,” read Maccabi’s short statement.
While Edelstein’s Euroleague inexperience was highlighted as one of his main problems, the overall career experience of the coach of the Israel national team dwarfs that of Hadar. The 49-year-old Hadar had never even worked as a head coach in the BSL until he was appointed by Maccabi Haifa two years ago. He joined Tel Aviv as an assistant coach this summer.
The ownership met with the players ahead of Hadar’s first training session on Sunday and club chairman Shimon Mizrahi didn’t deny that they played a part in the decision.
“We have no complaint towards Erez, but we didn’t see eye to eye on certain matters and that is why we parted ways.
It was mutual,” said Mizrahi. “When we decided to appoint an Israeli coach Erez was our first candidate and that is why we handed him the job. Rami and Lior are our coaching staff from now on. I don’t think there will be any change in the roster. This is one of the better rosters we have had here and we can reach excellent achievements with them.
“It is a mistake to think we made this decision based on two Euroleague defeats,” added Mizrahi. “As far as the role of the players, there were several factors which affected our decision. This wasn’t an easy decision but we had to make it. I think we made the right decision at the right time.”
Hadar is under pressure to provide immediate results, with Maccabi to face Zalgiris Kaunas in continental action in Lithuania on Friday before playing Hapoel Tel Aviv in the derby on October 31. The yellow-and-blue caps the hectic run of games with a home contest against Barcelona on November 2.
Meanwhile, Hadar’s former team Maccabi Haifa picked up its first win of the season on Monday, beating Maccabi Kiryat Gat 75-69 on the road.
Oz Blayzer scored 16 points for the winners, with Tyshawn Taylor finishing with 25 for Kiryat Gat (0-3).
Reigning champion Maccabi Rishon Lezion improved to 2-1 on Sunday, defeating Bnei Herzliya 89-73. Idan Zalmanson led five Rishon players in double figures with 17 points, while Jeff Adrian had 16 points for Herzliya, which fell to 1-2.
On Tuesday, Hapoel Tel Aviv aims to join Maccabi Tel Aviv at 3-0 when it visits Hapoel Eilat.