Maccabi Tel Aviv Basketball Club named Ainars Bagatskis as head coach of the team until the end of the 16/17 season, with a club option for 17/18.
Bagatskis, 49 years old from Latvia, is an offensive-oriented coach who preaches ball movement and fast pace. He excels in specific game preparation with high attention to detail. He has vast basketball knowledge, encompassing both recent global trends of the game and specific experience with European basketball as a player and a coach. He knows the current Euroleague very well and is expected to fit with Maccabi’s system right away.
Ainars Bagatskis: “I saw the game yesterday up close and am happy I already met the team in Istanbul. I’m honored to receive this job and to coach a great club like Maccabi Tel Aviv. I’m excited to start”.
The Latvian was introduced at a Sunday noon time press conference and added: “I’ve seen plenty of matches in the last few days and the one thing I can already see we’re lacking is discipline and consistency on defense and in general. Maccabi plays very well for 20 minutes out of a whole game”.
Bagatskis continued: “I believe in fast-paced transition basketball. Therefore, I try to use 10 players for each game at least. If we play my pace and my way, no player will be able to go for over 25 minutes. Having said that, I believe in everybody doing their job. I can tell that all players will get a chance”.
“We need to implement our talent on offense and play more consistently on defense. Above all of that, we need to control our egos and get on the same page”, the former player concluded.
David Blatt, Head Coach of Darussafaka: “I wish Ainars and Maccabi the same kind of mutual and successful experience that I enjoyed throughout my years in Maccabi. He is coming to a special club and I believe he can add his touch to a very talented team. I wish him all the best”.
Bagatskis started in the 2006 season as player-coach in Riga and then had a short stint at Zalgiris Kaunas before moving on to Latvia, Russia, Georgia and Ukraine. His first major international success as a head coach came in 2013 while coaching Budivelnyk Kiev. In his first year, he won the League Championship and led the team to the Euro Cup semi-final. In his second season, he won both the Ukrainian championship and cup, had his debut in the Euroleague and led his team to the Quarter Finals of the Euro Cup. Next, he coached for two years in Nizhny Novgorod in Russia where he continued his success. In 2015, he advanced with the surprisingly-good Nizhny (with future Maccabi players Taylor Rochestie & Gal Mekel) to the Euroleague’s Top 16 and made it to the semi-finals of the VTB with a 19-11 record. In 2016 he led Nizhny (with Victor Rudd) to the Euro Cup semi-final while beating, among others, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem (twice). He had a 17-13 record domestically and reached the VTB league Quarter Finals, beating along the way all the big teamhs of Russia: CSKA, Khimki, Kazan and Kuban. He started this current season as the assistant coach of David Blatt at Darussafaka after Blatt hand-picked him for the job. Since 2010, Bagatskis has been the head coach of Latvia’s national team, leading it to 3 separate qualifications to the EuroBasket, in 2011, 2013 and 2015, when he led the surprising Latvian team to the 8th spot.
Bagatskis (1.97 m) was one of the best and most famous players in the history of Latvia. He played for 20 seasons, mainly in the Baltic leagues and was a proven scorer who won multiple team and personal titles. Towards the end of his career he played for two seasons with Zalgiris Kaunas and experienced what is now known as the “Zalgiris Miracle” against Maccabi Tel Aviv – from the losing side. For years, he starred for Latvia’s national team and in the 1997 EuroBasket he finished 2nd in scoring.
From Maccabi Tel Aviv BC Website