Local Hoops: Oded Katash quits as Mac TA coach

Tzvika Sherf to take over at Tel Aviv until the end of the season, starting at Efes Pilsen on Thursday.

Just seven months after signing a three year contract as Maccabi Tel Aviv coach, Oded Katash resigned on Tuesday afternoon following his team's humiliating loss to Ironi Ramat Gan the previous day. Three losses in its last four league games and a home defeat to Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius in its most recent Euroleague encounter, meant Katash had no real option on Tuesday but to quit his job after only 18 games in charge. Tzvika Sherf, who was named the club's CEO in the summer, will replace Katash and guide the team until the end of the season. "As the head of the team I take full responsibility for the state Maccabi Tel Aviv has found itself in," Katash said on Tuesday. "The team needs a change and in its current situation the only significant change that can be made is at the coach's position. "Maccabi Tel Aviv is close to my heart and the good of the club has always been the most important thing to me. "I wish Tzvika Sherf success. I love the club and the players and I believe in their ability to win all the titles this season." Sherf, who coached Tel Aviv for 10 seasons during the 80's and 90's, returns to the position he left just over 10 years ago. "The management regretfully accepted Katash's resignation and wishes him all the best in the future," a statement released by Maccabi read. "The management is certain that Katash, who grew up at the club, will return to it in the future. The management has also decided that coach Tvika Sherf, who had held the position of CEO, will coach Maccabi until the end of the current season." Maccabi chairman Shimon Mizrahi and the new coach held a hastily organized press conference after the news of Katash's resignation spread. "I want to speak as little as possible. We need to speak less and do more," said Sherf who will guide the team against David Blatt's Efes Pilsen on Thursday. "I'm taking on the most difficult job in Israeli and European basketball. There's plenty of work to be done. "This is a difficult day for me. We worked together for five months. I didn't come to Maccabi to replace Oded Katash. I helped him and backed him from the start of the season." Describing the emotional state of affairs at Maccabi, Sherf added: "When Katash asked to leave we all had tears in our eyes. The club is in a difficult state. These recent losses aren't just regular losses. We can't afford to lose in such a way. The players will have to sacrifice more and give much more. That's the change that must be done." Looking to the future, Sherf insisted he will try and keep the current roster intact. "We're not planning to replace any player at the moment, but if they continue to play in the way they have recently, changes will be made." Despite winning six of its nine Euroleague games, Maccabi struggled with its form this season and found itself on the wrong end of a thrashing in Europe and the BSL time and again. The team lost six of its 18 games under Katash, each by an average of 15.8 points. The 33-year-old had little experience in coaching before joining Maccabi, and was signed by Tel Aviv after impressing its owners by leading Hapoel Galil Elyon to the Final Four last season. "Oded was successful at Galil, but Maccabi Tel Aviv and Galil Elyon are very different and sadly things didn't work out," Mizrahi said. Katash bid farewell to the players at the Nokia Arena ahead of the evening training session, the first under the new coach. "We let him down. Everybody needs to feel like that," Tel Aviv captain Derrick Sharp said. "Katash wasn't the problem, the players are the problem. It's our responsibility to get the team out of trouble." Marcus Fizer, who has taken much of the blame for the team's struggles, said: "I feel disappointed within myself. I feel like I let him down. I feel like I could have done more. "He put us in the positions to win ball games, but we didn't execute. Unfortunately, this has happened and we just have to try and do the things we can to help the team do better."