Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt 390 (R).
(photo credit: Reuters )
Maccabi Tel Aviv took a crucial step to ensuring continued success on Tuesday when it handed coach David Blatt a two-year contract extension.
Blatt, who was also given a third-year option, led Maccabi to the Euroleague final last year while guiding it to the BSL championship and State Cup with just a single loss all season to an Israeli opponent.
The 52-year-old’s job was made all the more difficult this season by unexpected roster changes and the team’s participation in the Adriatic League, but Blatt has nevertheless taken the yellow-and-blue back to the Euroleague quarterfinals while cruising in both BSL and Adriatic action and already winning the State Cup.
“Maccabi sees Blatt as an inseparable part of the club and as the most worthy man to continue and guide the club forward,” a press release read.
“Blatt has proven over the last two years that he has an extraordinary and impressive personality and that he is a world class professional, a combination which matches the expectations and vision of Maccabi Tel Aviv.”
Blatt was delighted to have secured his future with Maccabi.
“This is a very emotional and important moment for me,” Blatt said. “Maccabi is dear to my heart and I’m happy and proud to continue and serve it in any way possible.”
Maccabi visits Barcelona in its final Euroleague Top 16 encounter on Wednesday night, but everyone’s mind will be on happenings in Kazan, Russia, 3727 kilometers away.
Maccabi’s 70-66 victory over Zalgiris Kaunas combined with Barca’s 63-62 win at Bennet Cantu last week settled Group H with still one game to play, with the Catalans clinching first place and Tel Aviv securing its progress to the best-of-five quarterfinal playoffs from second position.
The only matter left to be determined is the identity of Maccabi’s next opponent, which depends solely on the outcome of Wednesday’s showdown between Unics Kazan and reigning Euroleague champion Panathinaikos.
The winner of the encounter in Russia, which will end before Maccabi and Barca take the court for their friendly scrimmage, will finish first in Group G and face Maccabi in the next stage with homecourt advantage.
Panathinaikos will progress from second place even if it loses, but Kazan could completely miss out on a a quarterfinal berth should it fall at home and Fenerbahce Ulker beat Olimpia Milano in the group’s other game.
The start of the quarterfinals is still almost three weeks away, but Blatt’s biggest concern on Wednesday will be to split the minutes between his players as he tries to avoid injuries and unnecessary exhaustion ahead of the final stretch to the season.
“It was one of our goals at the start of this season to reach the quarterfinals and I’m happy that we’ve achieved it, but we don’t intend to stop here,” Blatt said. “So far, Barcelona and CSKA Moscow have been the two most prominent teams in the Euroleague.
“We’re coming to this game in a situation which is not ideal, we’ve already played games this week on Sunday and Monday and we’re tired. Three games in four days is a very difficult mission, but we’re taking this game seriously and will give it everything we’ve got.
“Sometimes the head and the heart can succeed in places where the body falters.”