Local hoops: Sofo back with Mac TA; Greenberg out at Haifa

Greek center Sofoklis Schortsanitis will return to wear yellow-and-blue next season after signing a three-year contract with Maccabi.

July 11, 2013 00:05
2 minute read.
GREEK CENTER Sofoklis Schortsanitis.

GREEK CENTER Sofoklis Schortsanitis 370. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)

Maccabi Tel Aviv took another important step in the rebuilding of its roster on Wednesday with the signing of a new, yet familiar, cornerstone to its frontcourt.

Greek center Sofoklis Schortsanitis will return to wear yellow-and-blue next season after signing a three-year contract with Maccabi on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old played for Maccabi for two seasons between 2010 and 2012, being selected to the All- Euroleague First Team in his first year with the club after helping it to the competition’s title game. He averaged 12 points and 4.1 rebounds in 22 games, playing just 19 minutes per contest.

Sofo’s production dropped in his second season in Tel Aviv, in large part due to injury. He returned to Greece last season to play for Panathinaikos, averaging 7.8 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12 minutes per game.

“We are excited to welcome Sofo back to Maccabi,” said coach David Blatt. “We had a great experience with him and you must remember that he played the best basketball of his life with the yellow-and-blue. He’s a unique player. I can’t wait to work with him again and to achieve great things together.”

Sofo’s (2.08m) signing comes two days after Maccabi added Jake Cohen (2.08m) to its roster and a week after it brought in Alex Tyus (2.06m).

Those three big-men, together with Shawn James (2.08m), who signed a four-year extension last month, will form the core of Maccabi’s frontcourt.

The 22-year-old Cohen played for Davidson College in the past four seasons, averaging 14.9 points and 5.3 rebounds in 2012/13.

Nevertheless, he was not selected in the NBA draft this summer and will be able to help Maccabi as a local player, having already played for Israel’s Under-20 team in the European Championships in 2010.

“We have followed Jake throughout his time in college and of course also while he played for the U20 Israel team,” said Blatt. “You must remember that he’s a young player and will need time to develop, but there’s no doubt that this is a player with fantastic potential.”

Maccabi’s latest signings have further decreased the chances of Lior Eliyahu extending his stay with the club.

Eliyahu turned down Maccabi’s latest offer last week and is hoping to find a better deal in Europe.

Elsewhere, Brad Greenberg confirmed on Wednesday that he will not return for a second season as Maccabi Haifa coach after leading the team to the BSL championship.

Haifa had an option to extend his contract, but chose not to, and the sides failed to reach an agreement regarding a new deal.

Greenberg, who is currently back in Israel in his position as the coach of the USA Maccabiah team, is considered one of the favorites to fill the vacant head coaching position at Hapoel Jerusalem.

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