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Return to Relevance: Maccabi Tel Aviv BC

Dov Halickman Photography

A couple of months ago I said that Maccabi had to make a move in order to return to relevance and finally after what seemed to be an eternity they did just that. Ainars Bagatskis out, Arik Shivek in. The former Israel National Team coach becomes the 5th Yellow & Blue boss of the season, yes, the 5th. Erez Edelstein, Rami Hadar, Lior Lubin, Ainars Bagatskis and now Arik Shivek. Is it possible that any other team has had as many court jesters?

All jokes aside, Maccabi management made the right move. They had to do something. We all thought that Bagatskis was going to be removed from his post after falling to Maccabi Haifa last month, but it just never happened to most everyone’s shock. However, after losses to Hapoel Gilboa/Galil and Maccabi Ashdod the Latvian’s fate was sealed. The players were lost, while he lost the players. The fans didn’t care and didn’t come. And lastly Maccabi, had become irrelevant.

However, that all changed when the Yellow & Blue finally did what needed to be done, bring in Shivek, even though it was about a year and a half too late. Yes, that’s when the 60-year old should have been hired by Maccabi after Guy Goodes was sent packing back in 2015. But as they say, better late than never.

With many years of head coaching experience both in Israel and abroad, plus a stint as the National Team Coach, Shivek’s hire was just what the doctor ordered. The no nonsense defending Israel Basketball Champion coach had also beaten his new employer the last two years, denying them a spot in the finals in each of those seasons.

Shivek agreed to come help save the season with no guarantee of a job for the 2017/18 campaign. It could be a very short stay with the need to win 5 games in order to take home the championship for his second straight season. Shivek said he had received a call from Maccabi management asking him to come help out, so how could he refuse? There’s no question that the odds are stacked against him and that Bnei Herzliya swept away the Yellow & Blue during the regular season. But does it mean that they have no chance in the best of 5 quarterfinal series? No way.

At the end of the day, this is still Maccabi. Unquestionably the king of Israeli Basketball to which the media still lives and dies by. Just look at yesterday’s Basketball League Playoff Luncheon. The minute Shivek walked in and donned the Maccabi polo shirt, they became relevant yet again as photographers swarmed around the new head coach like there was no tomorrow.

Maccabi is what stirs the basketball drink in this country and heading into the playoffs with no one giving them the slightest chance is also an opportunity to come out on top and prove the naysayers wrong once again. With one move the Yellow & Blue has returned to relevance.

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