Winning against the odds

Hapoel Holon's Miki Dorsman and Ironi Kiryat Shmona's Ran Ben-Shimon are 'The Jerusalem Post's' basketball and soccer coaches of the year.

dorsman 248.88 (photo credit: )
dorsman 248.88
(photo credit: )
Local Hoops On November 20 of last year Miki Dorsman announced that he had coached his last game. Nine days earlier a so-called fan of the club he owns and coaches, Hapoel Holon, hurled a fire cracker onto the floor of the Malha Arena, resulting in security guard Yoav Glitznshtein losing two of his fingers. After sitting through the tribunal at the Israel Basketball Association headquarters, Dorsman understood that his team was set for a hefty punishment and announced that he had lost his passion for coaching and that he will never guide his side again. Holon had a promising start to the season, after being promoted to the BSL in the summer, but everything Dorsman built seemed to be crumbling into pieces following the Malha incident. Hapoel went on to lose two of three games under assistant coach Ofer Heruti and looked to be just another mediocre league team. However, everything would change on December 10 with a victory against Maccabi Tel Aviv. None of the Holon players accepted the fact that Dorsman was gone for good and told the coach they wouldn't continue without him. The 42-year-old returned to the sidelines just in time to defeat Maccabi, the first win in a run which would end with Holon being crowned as league champion. Hapoel would lose just four times in the following 22 games, building in confidence with every win, while playing the prettiest basketball in the league. Dorsman's achievement isn't just in the fact that he became just the second coach in 39 years to beat Maccabi to the league title, but that he managed to overcome immense obstacles on the way and won the championship by playing the best basketball in the BSL throughout most of the season. Israeli basketball couldn't have a more worthy champion than Dorsman and Holon's huge success guarantees that he won't be threatening to leave again any time soon. Regardless of what's to come, Holon and Israeli basketball are already in debt to Dorsman and both are winners from every second and shekel the coach of the year has invested and plans to invest in his team. Local Soccer Almost no one gave Kiryat Shmona a chance of avoiding relegation this season, and it seemed a virtual given that the team would find itself back in the National League just a year after being promoted to the top-flight for the first time in its history. Well, Kiryat Shmona coach Ran Ben-Shimon was obviously not notified of his side's impending doom, because on Sunday the former Israel international guided the team to an amazing UEFA Cup berth. Ben-Shimon led Kiryat Shmona to a good start to the season and from there on the team never looked back. Just two home losses were the key to the team's excellent season, and the side eventually finished only two points from the runners-up position. Despite having one of the smaller budgets in the league, Ben-Shimon built a balanced squad with an ideal mix of youth and experience. The 37-year-old coach, who was introduced as Maccabi Tel Aviv boss on Monday, maintained the core of the team which won the National League the previous season and added to it veterans Shavit Elimelech and Abas Suan, giving the team crucial experience in the important goalkeeper and defensive midfielder positions. More importantly though, Ben-Shimon injected self belief into the squad when everybody else had already written off the team. The coach of the year quite simply out-coached most of his counterparts on and off the field this season and he got his just reward by being selected as the man to take Maccabi Tel Aviv forward.