Local Hoops: Effi named Mac TA coach

After 22 straight seasons of coaching in the top-flight of Israeli basketball, Birenboim has finally reached the summit.

Maccabi TA 224.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger [file])
Maccabi TA 224.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger [file])
After 22 straight seasons of coaching in the top-flight of Israeli basketball, Effi Birenboim has finally reached the summit. Birenboim was announced as Maccabi Tel Aviv coach on Thursday evening, the first step in the rebuilding process the team is set to undergo this summer. Despite its surprising success in Europe, last season was one of Maccabi's worst ever. Tzvika Sherf replaced Oded Katash as coach in the first day of 2008, but the side still ended up the season empty handed, losing in the final of the State Cup, the Euroleague and the BSL. Tel Aviv lost a record amount of games in local league play and Sherf, who was at one stage extremely close to signing a contract extension, had no chance of keeping his job after his team dropped a first league title in 15 years. Birenboim was always one of the favorites to replace Sherf and after David Blatt signed with Dynamo Moscow on Monday, his appointment was only a matter of time. Birenboim, who will celebrate his 54th birthday next Wednesday, came tantalizingly close to defeating Maccabi in the Final Four semifinals last week, but did more than enough to impress the Tel Aviv management by beating the yellow-and-blue with Bnei Hasharon in all three of the teams' meetings in the regular season. Birenboim spent his playing career at Maccabi Ramat Gan and went on to guide the club's youth side. In 1986 he got his first chance to lead a team in the first division when Ramat Gan promoted him to be coach of the senior side. Ramat Gan reached the final of the State Cup in 1989, losing to Maccabi Tel Aviv, and finished the following season in second position. In 1995 Birenboim finally got his hands on a title when his Maccabi Herzliya side beat Tel Aviv in the cup semis before getting the better of Holon in the final. In the following seasons, he would guide both Hapoel Jerusalem and Hapoel Tel Aviv to second place finishes. During his time at Tel Aviv's red club Birenboim heavily criticized Maccabi's dominance in the Israeli league and attacked the fact that no one dares to speak out against the powerful club. In the last two seasons, Birenboim successfully guided Bnei Hasharon, reaching the cup final for the fifth time in his career last year. Now, after all this time, he finally has his chance to prove himself at the highest level.