Sinai Says: Survival on the line for Jerusalem coach Goodes

If he’s to make history and return for third year, Hap J'lem coach will likely need to win championship or achieve extraordinary success in Eurocup.

A place in the Eurocup semifinals is on the line for Hapoel Jerusalem  on Wednesday night in Berlin.
However, for its coach Guy Goodes, there is far more at stake.
Since the early 1980s no coach has managed to survive at Hapoel for more than two successive seasons.
Goodes may still be in charge, but he actually knows how it feels to be thrown out of the club and last June he very nearly joined the illustrious list of coaches who left Jerusalem in unceremonious fashion.
Pini Gershon, Tzvika Sherf, Effi Birenboim, Erez Edelstein, Sharon Drucker and Dan Shamir are just some of the names who were pushed out of Malha before they had a real opportunity to make their mark on the club, and that looked to also be the case with Goodes after completing a year in charge last summer.
Oded Katash was set to be named as his replacement before Katash had a late change of mind and decided to remain with Hapoel Gilboa/Galil.
With few other coaching options available, Jerusalem shamelessly pleaded with Goodes to return to the sideline and he admirably put his pride aside and came back to guide the team for a second season.
However, if he’s to make history and return for a third year, he will likely need to either win the Israeli championship or achieve extraordinary success in the Eurocup.
While an historic league title still seems a little out of reach, especially with the improvement Maccabi Tel Aviv has shown in recent months, continental excellence is just 40 minutes away.
Trying to predict what the remainder of the season holds for Hapoel, starting from Wednesday night, is virtually impossible as the team’s play under Goodes has been extremely erratic.
While his sides may play outstanding basketball at times, Hapoel still lost in the semifinals of both the BSL Final Four and State Cup last season, as well as failing in continental competition.
The current campaign has so far been quite similar.
Jerusalem fell in the last 16 of the cup, and although it once more seems destined for the local Final Four, it would come as no surprise if it were to miss out on the championship game for a third consecutive season as it has already lost six of 19 regular season games.
The one difference this season, however, has been the side’s play in Europe, and that could prove to be Goodes’s lifeline.
After coming through its regular season group with a 3-3 record, Hapoel exceeded all expectations in the Last 16, defeating the superior rosters of Valencia, Unics Kazan and Galatasaray on the way to a surprise berth in the quarterfinals.
Jerusalem also more than held its own in the first leg of the last eight last week, leading by as many as 20 points over Alba Berlin before settling for a six-point victory.
Hapoel can afford to lose by five points on Wednesday and still advance to the Eurocup last four to be played in Vitoria, Spain, over the weekend of April 17/18.
While Hapoel’s track record with coaches suggests that even a place in the semis of European basketball’s second cup competition might not guarantee Goodes another season at the club, success on Wednesday will still go along way to silencing his detractors.
Failure in Germany, however, and Goodes will likely have to workmiracles in the BSL to still be at the helm at Malha next season.
Goodes may well be fully focused on the task at hand in the return leg in Berlin.
However,deep inside he too knows that on Wednesday night he can not only guideHapoel to the Eurocup semis, but also move that much closer to a newcontract at Jerusalem as well as solidify his position as one ofIsrael’s top coaches.