Spahija on his way out of Maccabi Tel Aviv

Croatian coach Neven Spahija has had a difficult season at Maccabi Tel Aviv, despite winning the Israeli championship.

Spahija 298.88 (photo credit: Allon Sinai [file])
Spahija 298.88
(photo credit: Allon Sinai [file])
Maccabi Tel Aviv's Croatian coach Neven Spahija was told Sunday that he will not continue in the position next season. Spahija, who guided the team to the Israeli championship four days ago, was given the news by club chairman Shimon Mizrahi, less than a year after he took the reigns at the club. "Spahija will not continue next season. All that remains is to finalize the terms of his departure," a Maccabi Tel Aviv source told The Jerusalem Post. Spahija joined Maccabi last summer after Pini Gershon left the club and, despite claiming the league title, the team had a less than successful campaign. Maccabi suffered from erratic form throughout the season, failing to reach the Euroleague Final Four, losing in the State Cup semifinal to Bnei Hasharon and only winning the championship in the final seconds against Hapoel Jerusalem. After the Spahija experience the Maccabi board is believed to be looking to sign an Israeli coach to the most stressful position in Israeli sport. The big favorite to inherit Spahija is former Maccabi coach David Blatt. The 48-year-old American-born Israeli, who coached Tel Aviv in the 2001-02 season, is expected to leave his current job coaching Italian outfit Benetton Treviso and will be meeting the Maccabi board in the next few days. "Blatt is the coach Maccabi wants, it's only a question of money," the source said. Spahija has one season remaining on his contract and Maccabi and the coach are expected to agree on a compensation deal in the coming days. Gershon could also possibly make a surprise return to Tel Aviv should his current club Olympiakos choose to release him and Blatt decides to turn down Maccabi's offer. Gershon failed to guide the Greek giants to the Euroleague Final Four this season, but will face arch-rival Panathinaikos in the Greek playoffs finals series that begins this week.