More déjà vu for yellow-and-blue

Continuing recent trend, Maccabi Tel Aviv brings back Goodes as assistant coach, US forward Cohen.

June 27, 2017 22:46
3 minute read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv announced the return of coach Guy Goodes yesterday, with the 46-year-old Israeli to

Maccabi Tel Aviv announced the return of coach Guy Goodes yesterday, with the 46-year-old Israeli to act as new head coach Neven Spahija’s senior assistant. (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)

Maccabi Tel Aviv remains intent on bringing back former coaches and players as it aims to return to its former glory, announcing the signing of Guy Goodes as a senior assistant coach to Neven Spahija and the addition of American-Israeli forward Jake Cohen on Tuesday.

After failing to reach the BSL final in the past three seasons, and on the back of two disastrous Euroleague campaigns, Maccabi seems intent on taking as few risks as possible as it goes through another rebuilding process, signing familiar and proven names.

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Goodes hasn’t worked since he was fired by Maccabi in November 2015 following 17 months as head coach. He had previously worked more than six years as an assistant coach, including with Spahija in 2006/07.

Goodes was an obvious successor to David Blatt in the summer of 2014 after spending four years as his assistant. Goodes played for Maccabi for eight seasons between 1990 and 1998, retiring in 2004 following an injury ravaged career.

He moved straight into coaching, guiding Maccabi Rishon Lezion for two seasons (2004-06) before returning to the yellow- and-blue as an assistant for two years (2006-08). Goodes left Maccabi for the head coaching position at Hapoel Jerusalem in 2008, but was brought back to Yad Eliyahu in 2010 to work under Blatt.

In his only season under Spahija, Maccabi claimed the BSL championship and reached the Euroleague quarterfinals.

Spahija became Maccabi’s top target once David Blatt rejected the club’s offer to return after weeks of negotiations. The Croatian has spent the past three years as an assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks.

He has won domestic league titles in six countries – Slovenia, Croatia, Lithuania, Spain, Israel and Turkey.

Spahija’s first signing was American-Israeli guard John DiBartolomeo, who helped Maccabi Haifa to the BSL final this past season as was named as the league’s MVP. He averaged 22.5 points, 3.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 28.3 minutes per game in the playoff quarterfinals, doubling his point average from the regular season while also improving his already impressive efficiency.

DiBartolomeo was held scoreless in the first half of the Final Four semifinal against Maccabi Tel Aviv, but netted 19 points after the break to secure Haifa’s victory.

His hot streak ended in the final, scoring only six points on 1-of-6 from the field in a loss to Hapoel Jerusalem.

Alex Tyus, who played for the team between 2013 and 2015, was the next player signed, leaving Turkish club Galatasaray where he averaged 10.0 points and 5.2 rebounds in Euroleague action last season.

Cohen became the latest player to make a comeback on Tuesday, after also playing for the team between 2013 and 15. Maccabi is also targeting Tyrese Rice, who led the yellow-and-blue to the Euroleague title in his lone season in 2013/2014.

Negotiations are also ongoing with young Israeli forward Karam Mashour.

It remains to be seen how many players will be back from last season.

Andrew Goudelock, Victor Rudd and Colton Iverson are among those who will leave, with Maccabi also likely to make major changes to its Israeli core.

Yogev Ohayon is ending a contract and Maccabi is set to offer him a new deal that will pay around 50 percent less of what he earned this season.

Gal Mekel and Sylven Landesberg are both under contract, but they may also be on their way out, with the future of captain Guy Pnini also far from guaranteed.

In fact, the only Israeli player who seems certain to be back for another season is young center Itay Segev.

In other basketball news, Hapoel Tel Aviv announced on Tuesday that captain Matan Naor is leaving the club.

Naor returned to Hapoel in 2010 when it was in the third division and was still named Hapoel Ussishkin. He helped the team back to the BSL, but has seen his role diminish in recent years, and wasn’t in new coach Danny Franco’s plans for 2017/18. Hapoel announced that Naor’s No. 12 jersey will be retired.

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