(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
After the first three candidates declined the position, Erez Edelstein is set to be named as the new coach of the Israel national basketball team next Wednesday.
The 52-year-old was unanimously recommended for the job by the Israel Basketball Association’s professional committee on Thursday, with the board of the IBA to make the decision official in its meeting next Wednesday.
The IBA admitted on Thursday that Edelstein, who has coached Hapoel Tel Aviv for the past three seasons, was not its first choice, although insisted that he was one of many “good alternatives.”
“David Blatt said that at this time he can’t accept the job, Pini Gershon explained that he has other commitments and Tzvika Sherf withdrew his name this morning,” an IBA press release read. “The IBA thinks that all the candidates with whom it met were worthy and the eventual choice was made between good alternatives.”
Edelstein will replace Arik Shivek, who guided the team in the last four years. Israel reached the past two Euro- Basket tournaments under Shivek’s guidance, but failed to progress past the first round in both championships, finishing bottom of its group with a humiliating 1-4 record last summer.
Shivek was hoping to continue for two more years after Blatt and Gershon turned down the IBA, but ultimately a decision was made to start afresh with a new coach and Edelstein was the obvious candidate. Edelstein, who will continue in his role as the Hapoel coach, will hold his first training session with the national squad at the start of the summer ahead of Israel’s EuroBasket 2015 qualifiers, which will be played between August 10 and 27.
Israel will face Montenegro, Bulgaria and Netherlands in Group B, with the seven group winners, as well as the sixbest second-place finishers, to advance automatically to the tournament in Ukraine.