BASELINES: Amiel Out in Jerusalem Mess, Saras On Jokubaitis, Maccabi Wins

Oct 29, 2021 | Holyland Hoops

Each week just as we head into Shabbat, The Sports Rabbi will bring you his finals thoughts on the Israeli league week that was, Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Euroleague along with the other Blue & White teams in Europe plus you can check out all of the other postgame articles below as well.

Derrick Williams – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman


Maccabi keeps on rolling with stunning win over Barca, Amiel out at Jerusalem on Episode #238

You’ve got to have heart: Maccabi knows the script as to how to make this season a special one

Maccabi Tel Aviv crushes Barcelona 85-68 in dominating fashion to win 4th in a row

“Keenan is our main point guard” What makes Maccabi’s Evans tick ahead of Barcelona

Knicks stash Rokas Jokubaitis talks Barca, honing his trade and keys to NBA success

We have witnessed Amiel’s last stand as Jerusalem coach

Williams earns his Yellow & Blue stripes in Maccabi triumph as Barca is on deck

“I think Euroleague is the best basketball in the world” Tyler Cavanaugh talks Zalgiris, hoops ahead of Maccabi

Conversation with Hapoel TLV’s James Young, Classico blowout on Episode #237

Oren Amiel – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman


Sports are very, veery dynamic and so is the shelf life of a head coach. As they say you can’t fire the entire team when things go south and we saw that in action at the stroke of halftime during the Maccabi Tel Aviv and Barcelona Euroleague game.

No, Ioannis Sfairopoulos is still in charge of the Yellow & Blue and wasn’t jettisoned when his team went into the break up by 20 points, 56-36 over Saras Jasikevicius’s team.

It was Oren Amiel, the bench boss or should we say former bench boss of Hapoel Jerusalem who was shown the door at 9:47pm, a much more convenient time than the infamous 2:27am the Erez Edelstein was let go by Maccabi years ago.

Oren Amiel – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Letting go a coach or shall we say that the sides parted ways on a Thursday night smack dab in the middle of a Euroleague game is probably one of the best times to do so as all of the Israeli sports world’s eyes are on Maccabi as Jerusalem tried to sweep the coaching change under the rug heading into the weekend and a slow news day.

Amiel leaving Jerusalem will be a footnote in the history of the Reds, nothing more and nothing less and that is most probably how the club wants his tenure to be remembered as.

However, Amiel out of a job with Hapoel is just putting a bandaid over a much bigger issue. Jerusalem needs to do some major soul searching as to how they have managed the club over the past year plus and going through one coach after the next is just putting a black mark on a proud franchise with a fanbase that deserves stability and so much more. You can’t keep making mistake after mistake on a management level and expect that the fans will keep coming back for more. Why would they?

Not allowing Oded Katash to rebuild the team after the end of the “corona season”, bring a totally disconnected Dainius Adomaitis and parachuting him into a situation that was apparently one that was no win. Then allowing assistant coach Yonatan Alon who should have been given the chance once Katash left the job to finish off a lost season that saw most of the imports depart during the mini-war with Gaza and Hamas.

Oded Katash – Photo Credit Dov Halickman

We can also go back to the hiring of Fotis Katsikaris and Modi Maor as failures as well before bringing in Katash who provided immediate consistency to the club.

At the end of the day ownership headed by Eyal Homsky along with the CEO Guy Harel have plenty of the blame that can be laid at their feet. The pair have mismanaged the club from top to bottom and now need to dig out of another mess.

Will Katash return? It could very well happen as he is unemployed and the club knows exactly what they will get from him. Would he want the job? Well that’s another big question that remains to be seen.

But what is certain is that they can’t make another mistake or else they will lose whatever credibility they have left with the fans.


It was great to see Barcelona and the New York Knicks young gun Rokas Jokubaitis live and in person after having spoken to him over the phone on Wednesday night as I did an interview with the 34th overall selection at the 2021 NBA Draft.

I have seen the Lithuanian guard a number of times when he played with his home country club Zalgiris but now with the likes of perennial title contender Barcelona, it seems like a totally different story. Rokubaitis played only 8 minutes against Maccabi but he made some nice plays to score 4 points and impress a number of people around the Tel Aviv arena.

The Sports Rabbi with Rokas Jokubaitis

Following the game I asked his coach Saras Jasikevicius about where he sees Jokubaitis’s future. I had meant as he developed as a player and not actually where he saw him playing but he ended up answering both questions which was an eye opener.

“We hope his future is in Barcelona. I don’t know what the future holds for him. It’s up to him. We always say to all the young kids, he is doing all the work, he has a great work ethic and he’s young. He is not going to play a lot of games in a row consistently but he progresses here. We believe in him, we love him and he entered the team in a great way as far as bringing the energy to the practice and the game. Let’s not put too much pressure on the kid, he’s 20 years old. His future is in Barcelona.”

Knicks fans read into this quote as much as you want form someone who has coached and nurtured him for a number of years from his pro start in Lithuania to the bright lights and big stage that Barca provides.



I liked Maccabi Tel Aviv’s successful week with a pair of home Euroleague wins plus a demolition of Hapoel Jerusalem last Saturday night.

I disliked how Jerusalem just seems to be floundering like a ship without a rudder and no direction in sight.

I liked Hapoel Galil Elyon’s win over Nes Ziona and then going on the road in the Balkan League where they picked up two more wins for Barak Peleg. An incredible week for the up and coming squad.

I disliked Nes Ziona’s play at Kfar Blum who desperately need a win in the worst way before it gets too late to climb out of another hole which they had to do last season in the Israeli league.

Chris Babb – Photo Credit:

I liked Hapoel Beer Sheva’s play down by the Rea Sea in Eilat as Dererk Pardon, Junior Etou and my personal favorite Cody Demps played incredible ball for Rami Hadar who needs to never again keep Demps out of the lineup as he did at Jerusalem the week before.

I liked how both Hapoel Holon and Hapoel Gilboa battled it out tooth and nail in a game that was eventually won by the purples as the two clubs laid it all out on the line.

I liked how Gilboa played with only 3 imports at Holon and how well they played including a superb showing by Ronnie Harrell with 29 points.

I liked how Bnei Herzliya played once again this week against Hapoel Haifa as they moved to 3-0 on the young season as Oren Aharoni and Zufer Avdija have done a magnificent job with their roster which sports 5 imports which will end up being the reason they will be a threat game in and game out.

Lotem Amsalem – Photo Credit:

I liked that Hapoel Tel Aviv finally won their first game and that Lotem Amsalem had 8 points. But don’t forget about James Young will a terrific game scoring 23 points and looking like the Young guy we knew from his time with Maccabi Haifa.

I disliked Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion’s play as their are tons of problems with the roster which is just not good enough. They are finally making moves by bringing in Tu Holloway for TJ Williams, but they are much more in need than just a guard at this point.


“Keenan is our main point guard and I believe a lot in him” – Ioannis Sfairopoulos on Keenan Evans following the Zalgiris victory

“He can bring the ball up and (he’s) a point guard that you can trust and play alongside with” – Scottie Wilbekin complimenting his backcourt mate Keenan Evans after the win over Barcelona 

“Every game is a big game for our team, no matter who were playing” – Ike Iroegbu, Hapoel Galil Elyon guard after the club’s first home win

“Right now our focus is on Europe” – Oren Amiel after getting blown out by Maccabi and prior to another continental defeat that led to his firing

“Anything I’ll say will sound like an excuse” –

“We lost the game somewhere between Istanbul and Tel Aviv in the 48 hours before the game” –  Barcelona coach Saras Jasikevicius following his team’s defeat to Maccabi



“Sent for a spin, here comes the win” Roman Sorkin schools Nikola Mirotic – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman


Maccabi Tel Aviv takes on 3-0 Bnei Herzliya on Monday night at Yad Eliyahu which should be a barnburner of a matchup. In fact some of the Herzliya players were doing some scouting at the Yellow & Blue’s Euroleague game with Chianu Onuaku and Andy Van Vliet in attendance. Also watch out for Yotam Halperin’s debut on the Jerusalem sidelines as the sports director moves down to the sidelines on an interim basis and will welcome first place Hapoel Holon to the Jerusalem Arena.

One other game to watch is winless Nes Ziona and Hapoel Tel Aviv on Saturday night as Lior Lubin looks to notch his first win with the club. If he doesn’t find a way to chalk up a W one needs to ask as to how much longer he will be in charge at Lev HaMoshava.

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