Hiring a coach: How Jerusalem and its Sports Director Yotam Halperin brought in Coach Adomaitis

Jan 25, 2021 | Holyland Hoops

Yotam Halperin has been around the game of basketball for a very long time. As a player for both Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem in Israel as well as a member of the National Team, the Tel Aviv native was the third ever Sabra drafted by an NBA team when he was selected by the Seattle SuperSonics with the 53rd pick in the second round of the 2006 draft.

Today, Halperin serves as the Sporting Director for Hapoel Jerusalem and was very involved in the hiring of the new head coach Dainius Adomaitis. The Lithuanian bench boss replaced Oded Katash who left for Greece where he took aver the reins at Panathinaikos. Adomaitis will have an immediate task in front of him as the Reds look to qualify for the second round of the Basketball Champions League. Not only does Jerusalem need to defeat Limoges in France, they also need the group leader Turk Telekom to lose at home against a very game and improved Igokea squad.

Danius Adomaitis – Basket.co.il

The Sports Rabbi had a chance to discuss the move with Halperin as he explained the process of hiring a new coach, how they decision is made and what goes into making such a choice as the club continues to develop and go through a process where they are competing for titles year in and year out.

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“The process of hiring a new coach went very quickly,” Halperin began. “Usually a team works over they summer to find a new coach but in Oded Katash’s case we faint out one morning and we had to move fast. We had a list of potential coaching candidates that were available and we had many Zoom and telephone conversations with a number of them. We also spoke to players and other experts in the field in order to make a decision. All of the candidates were solid and it wasn’t the case that one was better than the other.”

באדיבות הפועל ירושלים

An important part of hiring a coach is also looking for the right person who can help the team not only on the short term but also on the long term, “We went with our heart and I believe that Adomaitis has a lot of intangibles as a coach as Hapoel Jerusalem isn’t just looking at the short term and this current season but the long term and the process the club is going through. A coach has to look at how to win the next game but as a club we have to look at the bigger picture. We didn’t make the firm decision right away form the first day of our search but we took the appraise time in order to make our choice.”

“Every team will lose games and eventually win, including big games. But at the end of the day it is the path and process that we are on will take us to the point where we are constantly in the running for titles. Time will tell. I don’t know Adomaitis from top to bottom and everything went very quickly, but we felt that he is the right person for us as we look and peer into the future for many good years to come.”

Dainius Adomaitis – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Halperin needed to make sure that they spoke to people in the field in order to help form their opinion is Adomaitos was the right person for the job, “We received a lot of opinions from a number of people that we very much respect and admire during the search and on a personal level, I spoke to a number of the candidates as did CEO Guy Harel who was very involved in the process. As you know if you ask ten people you’ll get a dozen opinions and we made sure that we wouldn’t be swayed one way or another. But it was clear that the information we were able to procure gave us the feeling that Adomaitis was the coach that needed to get the chance.”

Adomaitis took the position in the middle of the season which usually means there is a learning curve as he was not the person who built the team at the start of the campaign. However, in Jerusalem’s case, the team wasn’t looking to change the coach as the club was very content with Katash and the team had been playing well which means that the Lithuanian enters into a team that may need some small adjustments and tweaking, “It’s a situation that doesn’t occur frequently where a coach like Oded Katash leaves for an opportunity. It wasn’t the case that the club didn’t want to keep Oded or that he failed. We woke up one morning and there was an opportunity for our National Team coach, which wasn’t a simple situation to deal with, neither for us and neither for Oded as well as for the new coach. It’s not the case where management was unhappy with the coach or there were losses, injuries etc… This came out of the blue and Adomaitis understands that as well. He wouldn’t have had this chance had Oded not left or that the club wasn’t content. This won’t make his job any easier and this could make things a bit more difficult especially in terms of the players.”

Dainius Adomaitis – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Despite not having won many titles as a head coach, Adomoaits was able to check off many of the boxes that led him to become Oded Katash’s heir apparent, especially after having been in charge of the Lithuanian National Team, “He has been a head coach for roughly ten years and there is no question that he hasn’t been in the field for 20-30 years with big teams but I do think he is right before the point of winning titles. I believe he knows basketball and he has the correct approach. Having been the Lithuania national team coach with many star players, one has to know how to handle such a situation.We didn’t really look at how may titles he had won and today it’s certainly a goal of the club to do so, but the real goal is to continue on our journey and path that will eventually take us to a point where we will battle for titles.”

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