Hapoel Jerusalem’s brand new head coach Aleksandar Džikić landed in Israel after a day of travel from Belgrade and was greeted by a number of the club’s supporters who serenaded the bench boss upon his arrival.
The Reds have had a busy summer bringing in six new import players along with adding a number of Israelis to the squad and the coach was excited to share his initial thoughts as the fans snag his name while banging on drums.
“My flight was long, we had some delays in Belgrade, then in Istanbul, but finally here, so its ok,” the ever entertaining Džikić began. “Do I look surprised or something like that (on the crowd at Ben Gurion Airport), I was trying to convince them (the club) to keep super low profile. But it’s part of the job, it’s great to be honest.”
The bench boss continued discussing the positive affect they can have on the team, ”I hope they will recognize our passion, we know, me and my guys who they are so hopefully they will figure out who we are and then we will work together. There is a thing about fans, it was always funny for me, players asking for energy from the stands but we will try to give them energy and then they will give it back to us. It’s a two way street.”
Jerusalem spent the last month and change putting together a squad that includes a number of Americans as well was European players that aren’t household names which was a different approach than last season when the club signed there high profile players who had spent serious time in the NBA but didn’t even make it to the end of the Israeli season.
”What we were trying to do based on what we can do, I think that we did a good job and this is not the time and the place that I will try and convince you that you should believe in the team. I think we will have a group of players who will play with each other for each other, some kind of unselfish, competitive basketball, maybe you guys are not satisfied because there are not too many fancy names but it is what it is.”
“I am expecting that you, fans and media, will be patient and just give us a chance to prove ourselves. I think that we have a team that wants to work and a team that wants to fight on the floor every game and that’s what we can promise. Other than that, I do not believe in talking now about anything else.”
Hapoel Jerusalem Coach Aleksandar Džikić arrives in Israel! pic.twitter.com/QOFVkRQolh
— Sports Rabbi (@thesportsrabbi) August 10, 2022
While Džikić’s roster may not have the star power as he mentioned, it’s thought that he himself will be the so called star of the show, however, he would have none of that, “I am not a star, I am not. It’s nice to hear that, but I do not feel like that. When I said that I meant maybe the names are not fancy enough for a club like Hapoel Jerusalem, you guys may be used to some other type of players, some other type of talent. We will try with this and see how it will go.”
As training camp is about to open, players will begin arriving in the country and will get to work in the the capital city, “Sometimes they say summers are too long, sometimes too short. We are starting in a couple of days hopefully as many players as possible and then we will try to figure out what’s the best for the team and then we will move on.”
Džikić is still in the process of building his coaching staff and while he arrived with assistant Srđan Flajs and fitness coach Filip Mihajlovic, he is also expecting to add a couple of Israelis as well, “We are trying to mix. I will have hopefully four guys in the staff, two guys coming with me and two Israeli coaches and we will work together. I am counting on Yotam to help as much as possible. If someone wants to work pro bono please let me know.”