Tabak up for Mac TA challenge

Croatian believes he can transform team’s fortunes after being unveiled as the new head coach.

Zan Tabak (center) held yesterday his first training session as the head coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv.  (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Zan Tabak (center) held yesterday his first training session as the head coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
New Maccabi Tel Aviv head coach Zan Tabak acknowledged the high expectations he faces in his new job on Tuesday, but said there was no way he was going to turn down the opportunity to coach the yellow-and-blue.
The 45-year-old Croatian was unveiled as Maccabi’s new coach a day after signing a deal until the end of next season to replace the sacked Guy Goodes.
Maccabi won its two BSL games under assistant coach Avi Even following Goodes’s firing to improve to 5-2, but it remains in real danger of failing to qualify for the Euroleague Top 16 for the first time ever, after falling to 1-4 with a home defeat to Darussafaka Istanbul last week.
Tabak is Maccabi’s first foreign coach since Croatian Neven Spahija guided the side in the 2006/07 season, with the yellow- and-blue paying a buyout estimated at around 100,000 euros to release the former NBA center from his contract at Montakit Fuenlabrada of the Spanish league, which he only joined this past summer.
Tabak’s first game at the helm will be against CSKA Moscow at Yad Eliyahu Arena on Thursday.
“When a team like Maccabi calls you don’t say no,” said Tabak in his first press conference at the club on Tuesday.
“When you accept an offer from a team like Maccabi you take as a given that they are aiming for the top. You know a team like Maccabi is trying to win everything and to go as far as possible.”
Tabak said his first goal will be to lift the roster’s level of confidence.
“If there was no problem I would not be here. That is the life of a coach,” explained Tabak.
“Player confidence has been affected which happens when results don’t go the way you want to. The first thing we need to do is lift the confidence and get them to play to potential.
“We need to make things more simple and not more complicated on offense. Defensively my philosophy is totally different to the one that was applied until now. But for the first month we are going to be based more on the stuff that was worked on until now and slowly start to introduce stuff I want them to do. Don’t expect to see basketball the way I want them to play too soon.”
BSL action continued on Tuesday, with Maccabi Ashdod (4-3) recording a league-best fourth straight win, beating Ironi Ness Ziona (2-5) 91-74.
Diante Garrett had 22 points for Ashdod, which built a double- digit gap (24-14) by the end of the first quarter and never lost the lead.
Or Solomon added 16 points and 11 rebounds, with Yuval Naimi finishing with 18 points for Ness Ziona.
Hapoel Eilat (3-4) registered its second straight win since Oded Katash took charge on Tuesday, beating Bnei Herzliya (3-4) 84-75. Afik Nissim led five Eilat players in double figures with 19 points, while Drew Crawford scored 17 points for Herzliya, which had won its previous three games.
Hapoel Tel Aviv is also at 3-4 after defeating Maccabi Kiryat Gat 83-70. Talor Battle and Robert Rothbart had 18 points each for Hapoel, with Paul Delaney scoring 15 points for Kiryat Gat (2-5).
Maccabi Haifa improved to 4-2, beating Hapoel Holon (2-4) 66-62. Rene Rougeau netted 14 points for the winners, with Will Clyburn scoring 24 points for the losers.