Goodes’s Mission Impossible, Possible as Holon looks to win 3rd straight do or die matchup

Jan 17, 2022 | Holyland Hoops

There is no question that the marriage between Guy Goodes and Hapoel Holon was the last thing on anyone’s minds just a couple of months ago, but as they say in sports always expect the unexpected and that’s exactly what occurred roughly 10 days ago.

The Israel National Team coach has had quite the last few months of action both on and off of the floor which has altered the landscape of Israeli basketball in more ways than one. From beginning the season as Rishon Le’Zion’s bench boss and the blue-and-white job the furthest thing from his mind, Goodes now finds himself on the sidelines of one of Israel’s top basketball franchises while also looking ahead to World Cup qualifiers and Eurobasket 2022.

However, perhaps the biggest challenge in his career as a head coach has occurred over the past few days where he was thrust into a situation that called upon him to win three straight knockout games.

Guy Pnini – Photo Credit: FIBA

The biggest of the trio of these contests takes place Wednesday night against Besiktas in the Basketball Champions League Play In best of 3 series which is currently deadlocked at one game a piece with the winner moving on to the Round of 16 group stage.

For Goodes, this is trial by fire in the truest sense of the words.

How did Goodes and Holon get into this unlikely union? Let’s take a look at the journey that put these two parties under Chuppah or the Israeli basketball wedding canopy.

Over the summer, Goodes re-signed with Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion for two years after having a number of successful campaigns taking the wine city side to the Israeli League finals as well as the State Cup. So, it was only natural that the former star guard who actually began his coaching career with Rishon in 2004 would continue with the club.

At Holon, Stefanos Dedas, their head coach over the past couple of seasons asked out of his contract in order to begin the bench boss at AEK in his home country of Greece. From there, chairman Eitan Lanciano set forth in finding another foreign coach that could continue to build the purples into a consistent power both on the domestic and European front and settled on Italian maestro Maurizio Buscaglia who had success in the EuroCup with Trento. However,he had not been truly tested on a continental level with a club despite guiding the Holland National Team since 2019.

Maurizio Buscaglia – Photo Credit: BCL

While Buscaglia struggled to find consistency in Holon’s play, Goodes had the same issue over at Rishon while also having been named to take over from Oded Katash at the Israel National Team when his contract was not extended.

With Rishon floundering in the standings and mired in last place, the sides parted ways just last month, leaving Goodes without a club team.

Buscaglia’s tense situation boiled over with inconsistent results including a brutal loss at Hapoel Eilat and then an inexcusable defeat to an undermanned Besiktas at home in the first game of Holon’s Champions League Play In series.

Lanciano had seen enough and the bench boss was let go with not only Holon’s continental dreams heading the wrong way but with also a State Cup one game knockout on tap against Hapoel Haifa. No doubt that this was a very precarious situation that the club had been in in some time and one that could determine the squad’s outlook for the balance of the season.

Enter Goodes stage right who joined the team after a very short negotiation period, bringing the two parties together for what would begin with three straight win or go home games. To say that Goodes hit the ground running with the adrenaline pumping would be quite the understatement.

Guy Goodes – Photo Credit: FIBA

Before Goodes was able to put on his coach’s training uniform he was already jetting with his new team to Istanbul for game two against Besiktas, which could not have gotten off to a worse start as Holon fell into a deep 26-13 hole after the first quarter of play. However, veteran leader Chris Johnson helped the club chip away at the lead and Israeli stalwart Guy Pnini drilled home the a clutch 3-pointer to send the series to a decisive game 3 back in Israel.

One mission down, two to go.

Next up was a fierce State Cup battle at home against a well rested and focused Hapoel Haifa and once again, Holon spotted the visitors a 41-27 lead at halftime. But just as they had done a few days prior, Joe Ragland, an injured Adam Smith and Johnson found a way to send the game to overtime where Frederic Bourdillon hit a number of big shots to finally clinch the hard earned win in a second extra session in a game that went 50 minutes.

Two down and one to go.

Now with the rubber match against Besiktas in front of a packed arena slated for Wednesday evening, Goodes will have a chance to go down in club lore should he accomplish what seemed to be totally out of reach; taking a fragile team on the cusp of imploding and winning three straight knockout games.

With Holon’s goal clearly in site, will Goodes be able to mark this mission impossible, as possible?

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